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How no college football in 2020 could affect the NFL

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ESPN’s “College GameDay” Films At Boston College Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The National Football League will not be denied

Good thing televisions exist

The NFL has already shown that it is set on yielding to the coronavirus as little as possible. The league delayed adjusting the draft as long as possible, eventually keeping the original date and giving in to broadcast-only.

The full schedules were released more than a week ago, and commissioner Roger Goodell has given almost no indication that the season might be lost.

Furthermore, they’ve begun opening up team facilities, albeit amidst uncertainty as state restrictions remain widely varied.

It’s strange that at this point in May, the NFL seems like a better bet to proceed in 2020 than the NCAA season. Incidentally that’s a bet you can now make within the state of Washington, but that’s another post for another day.

The NCAA painted itself into a corner

Blame those art students and their free thinking

It all hinges on how many universities are going to suspend in-person gatherings for the upcoming fall semester.

Several colleges in California are doing just that. The California State University system made the announcement last week that they would be conducting online class. I also have it on good authority that renowned powerhouse Everett Community College will also be virtual-only.

Anyway, the conversation for months has been the same: if no students on site, then no sports. Not even the fun ones, like football. If there’s no football at major universities in California, that makes it extremely awkward for how the NCAA would conduct its seasons this year.

On the other side, quite a few notable universities have made announcements that they will be resuming life in the fall of 2020. States on the West Coast have generally proven to be reopening large activities at a slower rate than places like the South or Midwest, and therefore Cal State may not end up being the only discrepancy between university activity.

As of writing, the majority of schools are waiting until June to make an official decision on the fall. If more schools hold out, this is going to get real weird.

To bring it home, how would the Pac-12 be expected to operate if Cal, USC, or UCLA are not in session? What about the University of Washington?

And that’s not including the myriad of smaller schools that will be in the same boat but aren’t multi-million dollar programs.

Lest we forget the Seattle Seahawks last year received offensive yards from players out of San Diego State, East Central University, and Rice.

It could end up leading to an ultimatum put forth by some majority portion of the NCAA trying to force the football season to move apace. This would involve some schools sitting out entirely or the NCAA giving up on their early declaration that they wouldn’t make money off the backs of free labor play sports if student-athletes were kept from campus.

A World Without Football


A fiasco of another order entirely would be if they actually honored their word, assuming a legitimate number of legitimate schools are still without campus life, and no college football were to be played.

At that point, 2020 would be the year where professional football was played and college football was not.


Sucks to be a junior this year, I guess? The draft would be a complete cluster.

Our own John Fraley then made a reasonable assumption at the time, but if everything turns into a dumpster fire it ends up going the other direction. Perhaps Seattle accidentally walked into the right decision.

The Seahawks trading away a draft pick next season may end up being a benefit. However we’re talking about end-of-draft selections so it’s likely not a big swing either way, even if nobody knows what to do next year.

For all who think scouts are bad at their jobs come draft day, if this NCAA cancellation actually happened NFL teams would be looking at two-year old college tape, and projecting...regression?

I have no idea how you do that and it’s very strange.

Furthermore it was complicated enough to even have a civil discussion on spring athletes this year getting an extra season of eligibility to make up for time lost. Imagine the dialogue when somebody first suggests that 2020-21 seniors get to come back for another chance to build their professional resumes?

Players gotta Play

Unless, of course they cannot

The NFL has the most stringent draft requirements of all the major sports.

To be eligible for the draft, players must have been out of high school for at least three years and must have used up their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season. Underclassmen and players who have graduated before using all their college eligibility may request the league’s approval to enter the draft early.

I’m not so concerned with time lost resulting in eligibility requirements. If anything never-before-seen happens this year they’ll make exceptions and figure it out.

But why does the NFL have those limitations in the first place?

Coming out of high school does not work like it does in the NBA, MLB. In Track & Field, many of the best collegiate athletes are pro or Olympic level at the same time. But not our American Football. It’s a different sport.

And apart from this site’s undisputed hero Marshawn Lynch, most humans do not retain or improve their athletic skill while taking a year off of their sport.

Rookies have a hard enough time adjusting to the Pros as it is; imagine the noticeable down-tick in offensive line play when no rookies have been hit for several hundred days. Then add on a training camp where those rookies are in pads for half the time they would have been under the old CBA, and it’s certainly a recipe which could see rookies contribute even less.

So yeah, it’s not just draft projections that would be as unclear as Pete Carroll’s timeout usage, it’s the trickle down effect that could take a couple years to stabilize.

Who gets their way?

Besides apparently Roger Goodell

All of this makes no sense for the NCAA to wade into, but it is the language they’ve maintained for some number of weeks.

Somebody’s going to back down.

Either the universities exercising more caution win, and convince some part of college football to not happen.

Or, the NCAA bullies all schools into participating in sports for the continuity of the whole, meaning their month-long rhetoric has been nonsense.

Also, it would take all of 10 minutes for the NFL to swoop down and flex some games into Saturday, and after the start to 2020 we’ve all had, I could get behind some Saturday AM showdowns.

So, the only two things we know are that we don’t know what is going to happen with the college football season in 2020 and in turn we have no idea how whatever happens with the college football season will impact the NFL in 2021 and beyond.