As international concern over the spread of coronavirus continues, sports have - nonetheless - begun their return to our daily lives.
The NBA is about to enter the much-discussed “bubble” in Disney World to finish out their season, the MLB will be returning with an adjusted 60 game slate later this month, and the NFL has remained steadfast that their season will happen as scheduled (though we’re still waiting on details).
And yet the billion dollar question remains: What’s going to happen with college football?
Plenty have speculated on the eventual outcome - we’ve even dipped our toes into looking at all of the different possibilities surrounding college football in 2020. This week, however, the picture began to get a little clearer, so let’s break it down…
(NOTE: This a developing story, and while we’ll do our best to keep things updated as we go, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we adjust to news as it comes in)
What’s been happening
As the situation developed, many schools - especially at the Division I level - continued to take a “wait and see” approach, though changes to the in-stadium experience began to trickle out. Notre Dame and Navy made the somewhat predictable decision to move their season-opening match-up in Dublin, Ireland to Annapolis, MD, while some programs like Iowa State began to prep for reduced capacity stadiums throughout the season to encourage social distancing.
But as voluntary workouts resumed at campuses across the country, positive cases forced many Division II and III schools to reconsider their season standing, with Division II Morehouse College cancelling their season entirely on June 26. The changes began to trickle up to Division I, when FCS Fordham cancelled three games against Stony Brook, Bryant, and Hawaii due to the Patriot League’s updated COVID-19 guidelines.
Then, this week, the first dominoes at the higher levels of Division I began to fall, beginning this past Wednesday with the Ivy League’s decision to postpone football until the spring. Sure, the Ivy League isn’t necessarily considered the “top rung” of the competitive landscape in college football - but the league was also the first to cancel their men’s basketball tournament back in March, a move many thought at-first was an overreaction before it was swiftly followed by the rest of the country’s collegiate programs.
And while many Power Five officials stated publicly that the Ivy’s choice would have little impact on their own, it was still viewed as an indicator that larger changes from the sports’ biggest programs could be forthcoming.
On Thursday, those changes began to take shape when the Big Ten conference made the most impactful college football decision to date, announcing that their participants would be playing a conference only schedule for the upcoming season. This will include the cancellation of match-ups that were among the most highly-anticipated of the season: Michigan at Washington, Ohio State at Oregon, Michigan State vs. Miami, and Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on October 3.
The conference has yet to announce any adjusted dates for the new season, an update their press release says will be coming at a later date.
On July 10, the Pac-12 joined the Big Ten in playing a conference-only schedule for all varsity sports in the fall, while also delaying start dates "until a series of health and safety indicators... provided sufficient positive data to enable a move to a second phase of return-to-play activities." Then, on Monday, July 13, the Patriot League announced that they'll be cancelling all fall sports. Army and Navy will be exempt from this decision, and their respective schedules will be decided by their superintendents.
UPDATE: On Thursday, July 16, The BIG EAST announced that they'll be joining the Big Ten and Pac-12 with a conference only slate in 2020...
Meanwhile, the MEAC (an FCS conference), announced the cancellation of all fall sports, including football, while the AAC posted their updated testing protocols for all sports - a move many see as mirroring what could come out from Power 5 conferences in the weeks to come:
Statement from Commissioner Mike Aresco on the safe return to competition. pic.twitter.com/OO94QimKJE— The American (@American_Conf) July 16, 2020
UPDATE (week of July 27, 2020): Since this article's initial publication, the SWAC conference has cancelled all fall sports, while the SEC and ACC have both moved their schedules to conference-only formats (with the ACC allowing for one non-conference game to be hosted by the ACC team in question), while Notre Dame will be joining the ACC for the 2020 season.
What could happen next?
As for the College Football Playoff, executive director Bill Hancock has said that his organization will be ready for whatever comes, according to that same story from ESPN. Meanwhile it’s expected that, should a college football season happen, the rest of the bowl postseason system would be prepared to move forward, as well.
Of course, plenty of possibilities still lie ahead of us - and each conference has remained committed to adhering to best practices from medical officials, as well as local and state ordinances. We’ll continue to keep you posted on everything that’s happening as it continues to develop.
Speaking of which…
How will this impact Rent Like A Champion?
Obviously, as the nation’s largest platform for college football vacation rentals, we’ve needed to make some adjustments this year.
In light of any cancellations and postponements, we’ll be adhering to our existing coronavirus policy that we launched back in March and have made sure to tweak as new updates have materialized. We’ve also updated our cleaning policy for every stay with Rent Like A Champion, and will continue to update our guests and hosts on our safety precautions in the coming months.
If you have booked a trip with us for a 2020 game that's been cancelled or postponed, we will be reaching out to you ASAP to discuss next steps with your group. We appreciate your patience and understanding in advance.
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