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Roundtable: Will there be a 2020 college football season?

Arizona v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

We ran a Twitter poll on Saturday asking our followers if the Pac-12 will wind up cancelling the 2020 football season before it starts.

It turns out y’all are much more optimistic than we are, with 20 percent of you voting “no.”

Here’s what our staff members think.

Adam Green: No, we will not see a college football season in 2020. Even if we somehow manage to get some games in, there is little chance of a full season.

Despite what some seem to think, none of us want to see more sports canceled. Unfortunately this is not about what we want; it’s instead about how a virus that led to a pandemic that we in the United States are still in the midst of. Back when this started it was difficult to imagine it would still be an issue now. But here we are.

While college athletes are very unlikely to suffer from the worst of what Covid-19 has to offer, as Arizona WR Jaden Mitchell explained his experience with the virus was no joke. That, along with the fact that we’re starting to learn about some of the post-illness damage that is caused — even with asymptomatic carriers — and it’s tough to not only imagine, but justify athletes taking the field.

Many surely want to, and you have to respect that. But this is about more than just sports and the potential for a lost season and revenue. This is about peoples’ lives, and because of that it makes sense to be extra cautious.

And that means no college football in 2020.

Brian J. Pedersen: I knew I wanted to be a sportswriter since I was 8 years old, and I’ve been blessed to make that a big part of my life for the past 25 years. Which is why it kills me that we can’t have sports right now, at least not at the college level.

According to Clay Travis, this means I’m rooting for the virus because of something something woke. In reality, I’m actually just paying attention to what’s going on around me and not continuing to push a professionally contrarian narrative that ensures I’ll get noticed because I’m not siding with the consensus. Call it Skip Baylessism.

Whatever the case, the last thing those of us who cover sports want is for those sports not to happen, but that’s unfortunately what’s going to happen. You cannot keep 18- to 22-year-old athletes in a bubble, not with all the distractions that exist in and around a college campus and certainly when they’re not getting paid.

Arizona’s freshmen just showed up on campus in the past week and there’s simply no way they’ll not find themselves at one or more jam-packed house party during what’s known as Silly Week. It’s what college kids do, and it’s one of many things that will make them—and, as a result, their teammates—susceptible to an outbreak.

The Pac-12 will recognize this inevitability before the scheduled Sept. 26 start date, most likely after the Big Ten gets the ball rolling by being the first power conference to call things off. The ACC, Big 12 and SEC may stubbornly try to still get going, but at some point everything will come to a halt. It sucks, but it’s reality. Sorry, Clay.

Gabe Encinas: No, it’s just not sustainable from a logistical standpoint let alone the health concerns. We just need to face the reality of it.

Unless you have a bubble there’s no possible way you have can rely on college students to play a full contact sport.

I love football, but as a society we just look so dumb creating pre and post game social distancing rules or conference only schedules thinking that will be the ticket to having a full season.

I wish we could see some ball and I’d do whatever I can to make it happen but unfortunately it just doesn’t possible.

Ronnie Stoffle: I never believed that the season would be completed but given now that universities cannot have players sign waivers, I think there’s zero chance it even gets off the ground.

Frankly, it’s for the best. This pandemic is still far from contained in our country and it’s not safe for the players, coaches or anyone else associated with the team to travel and/or play. Let’s assume that the situation miraculously becomes contained, though. Would playing football really be on the list of safe/acceptable activities to keep everything under control?

The only way it could work is if there’s a bubble like the NBA or NHL has proven. Unfortunately, that cannot and will not happen in the NCAA. It’s definitely a bummer but hopefully it’ll be back next year.

Ryan Kelapire: No, I don’t think there will be a college football season in the fall. Because of the large rosters and sheer level of contact in the sport, playing football during a pandemic is too much of a liability, especially if you’re requiring state-to-state travel to pull it off.

Even with a great testing protocol, an outbreak is inevitable unless you put teams in a bubble and shield them from the rest of the student body. But that’s not realistic because the NCAA would have to—gasp!—admit that football players are athletes first and students second.

The only reason a fall season has even been on the table to this point is because of how much these athletic departments need football revenue to survive.

Playing in the spring might work, but that would require a vaccine or a major reduction in coronavirus cases across the country by then.

Even still, any upperclassmen with NFL aspirations would likely opt out of the season, watering down the product. And then you have to wonder how that would affect the following season. Can you end a season in the spring and start another one the following September?

It’s disappointing that schools, conferences and the NCAA have had since March to come up with a formidable plan to play but have been left scrambling every step of the way.

And now I’m afraid it’s too late to save the sport we all love so dearly.