The Fifth Quarter: Week 3 Rewind


As is the case every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

(Writer’s note: thanks to the Tolstoy-esque expansion piece posted late last night, this will be a truncated version of The Fifth Quarter.  My apologies in advance for any consternation this may cause.  And many, many thanks to Ben for pitching in and helping immensely with this edition.  For his participation, I also apologize in advance.)


Fire up the Wilson-for-Heisman campaign already, please
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think Russell Wilson would be a serious or viable contender for the 2011 Heisman Trophy after his “free-agent” signing with Wisconsin this offseason, if for nothing more than the fact that the Badgers possess arguably the top one-two running back punch in the country.  Three games in?  He very would could be the leading contender at the quarter-pole of the season.  In three games this seasons — all easy wins for the Badgers — Wilson has completed 76 percent of his pass attempts for 791 yards, with just one interception to go along with eight touchdown passes.  Yes, the competition has consisted of UNLV, Oregon State and Northern Illinois — which fell to UW 49-7 Saturday — but there’s no denying Wilson has taken a team that would’ve been a Top-20 squad without him and turned it into a legitimate contender for not only a Big Ten title, but for a national title as well.  It’s amazing what one talented player at the most important position in football can do for a team, right Auburn?

During his first three years at Clemson, Dabo Swinney had compiled a fair-to-middlin’ mark of 21-15.  Fair-to-middlin’ in Death Valley will not suffice, however, so Swinney entered 2011 with his backside perilously close to the hot seat.  Three games and three wins later?  All hail Dabo!  The most recent of those wins this season also served as Swinney’s biggest in three-plus years with the Tigers, with Clemson snapping the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 and downing No. 21 Auburn 38-24.  Swinney’s offense pounded AU’s beleaguered defense into submission, piling up 624 yards of total offense in the win.  After opening with games against Troy (chuckle) and Wofford (giggle), this was Clemson’s first real test of the season.  Suffice to say, they passed with flying colors, even if the 2011 edition of the Auburn Tigers are nowhere the 2010 BcS title edition.

(*don’t be concerned; I cringed for you)

“BOOM!”er Sooner!
The Oklahoma-Florida State game got scary for several minutes when Seminoles receiver Kenny Shaw suffered what appeared to be a head injury after getting sandwiched between two Sooner defenders. But the fact of the matter is that Oklahoma’s defense brought the wood all night against the ‘Noles. And, as dangerous as it, there’s something about watching a player get lit up that makes us get a little excited. Whatever it was, the Sooners were playing with a purpose, not to mention some serious anger, on defense tonight. And we like it.

It wasn’t pretty but…
In the first two games of the 2011 season, Notre Dame produced over 500 yards of total offense in each contest — and lost both.  In their game Saturday against No. 15 Michigan State, the Irish produced 275 yards of total offense — and won.  Yep, this game makes perfect sense.  Regardless, it was a huge win for the Irish, preventing Brian Kelly‘s charges from falling into a 0-3 hole even after falling into a 28-10 third-quarter hole against the Spartans.  The turnovers are still an issue — three in this one, 13 overall on the season — but this was a game the Domers had to have.  And they got it, warts and all.

Lulling ’em to sleep
Down 24-3 to Pittsburgh deep into the third quarter, Iowa looked listless and well on its way to its second straight loss.  Then, James Vandenberg happened.  In a span of 16:16, the junior quarterback accounted for four touchdowns — three passing and one rushing — as the Hawkeyes roared back to take a 31-27 lead with just under three minutes left in the game.  Appropriately enough, a Tino Sunseri interception, his second of the game, sealed the win for the Hawkeyes — the biggest comeback in school history — on the drive following the go-ahead touchdown. ” I’m hurting for them, I’m hurting for those seniors,” first-year Pitt coach Todd Graham said. “I’m kind of shocked right now, because it all happened so fast.”  We believe that also covers nation’s thoughts on Pitt’s impending move to the ACC, actually.

It’s Doege Ball, y’all!
Texas Tech has produced its fair share of great college quarterbacks who could sling it around in their sleep. Against New Mexico — yes, we know — Red Raiders quarterback Seth Doege had a truly lights-out performance against the Lobos that will go down in the history books. Doege’s first 15 completed passes tied a school record for consecutive completions. Doedge finished 40-of-44 (a 90.9-percent completion rate for you nerds at home), which broke a national record for completion percentage with at least 40 pass attempts. He also threw for five touchdowns in the process. Now, if only we could have seen the game on a channel besides ESPN 8, the “Ocho”.

State of Georgia’s just peachy offensively, thanks for asking
As expected, Georgia and Georgia Tech had little problem in easily dispatching of Coastal Carolina and Kansas, respectively.  How they did it offensively, however, was truly impressive, particularly on Tech’s part.  The in-state rivals combined to score 125 points (66-24 for Tech, 59-0 for UGA) and roll up 1,238 yards of total offense.  The staggering aspect is that Tech contributed well over half that total — with nearly half the total of the two schools coming on the ground.  Of their 768 yards of offense against the woebegone Jayhawks, 604 came on the ground for the Yellow Jackets.  To repeat: Tech churned out over 600 yards on the ground against a a school from a BcS conference.  Unbelievably, that may not even have been the worst part for KU; Tech “only” ran the ball 50 times, meaning they averaged over 12 yards per carry every time they handed the ball off.  Incidentally, the total yards, rushing yards and yards per carry were all single-game school records.


Um, hello, McFly!?
Does anybody know how in the world Big East commissioner John Marinatto entered the press box of Maryland’s Byrd Stadium today without the slightest clue that two prominent members — Syracuse and Pittsburgh — were reportedly planning on leaving for the ACC? You know, that conference that raided the Big East, like, six or seven years ago? Big East officials told us this morning that the news of an alleged move came as a shock to them; that, to us, explains everything. This was, after all, a conference who spent the last year farting around with Villanova without even a timetable as to when they would make a move. Meanwhile, other conferences have postured themselves for long-term security. It looks like the ‘Cuse and Pitt saw through the curtain and decided their future needed to be somewhere else. And who could blame them?  The ACC did exactly what any conference should have been doing during this conference realignment v2.0, which is bolster internal security while being proactive. The Big East? They’re mad they had to miss their noon tee time.

South Beach Diet
Ohio State traveled to Miami with the hopes of slimming down — on offense, that is. And, boy, did they ever. The Buckeyes had just 35 yards passing between quarterbacks Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller during an offensive performance that would even make Jim Tressel tweet “#smh.” Ohio State’s run game was slightly better as Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde managed to put together some respectable rushing stats. But Buckeyes coach Luke Fickell is going to have to find an answer at quarterback and soon. Bauserman didn’t come close to performing like he needed to and Miller clearly has a long way to go.

Yeah, JoePa, ’bout this coaching thing…
You will never, ever hear me call for Joe Paterno to step down; the man has done too much for the game of college football in general and Penn State’s program in particular for him to be treated with anything but the utmost respect.  There should be no repeat  of what happened to Bobby Bowden at Florida State in Happy Valley.  That said, it’s time for Paterno to seriously consider doing what’s best for the program he built — even if that means stepping down.  Simply put, the Nittany Lions are a bad team, one of the worst 2-1 teams you’ll ever witness.  Looking haphazard, inept and uninterested through most of the game with Temple — a team they haven’t lost to since 1941 — the Nittany Lions need a touchdown with just under three minutes remaining to put the Owls away.  The win doesn’t mask reality, however — Penn State is a bad football team that didn’t deserve to be ranked entering the season, and it’s time for JoePa to sit down after the season and seriously consider handing over the reins to his program to someone else.  I don’t want a coaching legend gone from the game as its better off with him in it, but his beloved football program may be better off with him out of it.  It’s going to happen sometime.  Perhaps that sometime should be sooner rather than later.  Again, though, that should be JoePa’s call.  And I think, deep down inside, he knows what the right call is.

Slick Rick on a Slippery Slope?
As far as national exposure and meaning goes, UCLA hosting Texas was a little bit faint on the radar. Still, the Bruins needed a quality win to take a little bit of the heat of of Rick Neuheisel’s seat, which has been getting much, much warmer as of late. That win never came, as Texas ran through UCLA 49-20. Neuheisel still hasn’t found any significant production out of quarterbacks Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince, which only adds salt to the wound knowing that just across the field, the Longhorns were beginning to establish an offensive identity. There’s still some time left for Neuheisel to regain the grip on his job security, but it’s loosening by the day.

Houston, we have a problem
Oh boy, where to begin when it comes to the state of Ole Miss football?  You could start with today’s game, a 30-7 drubbing at the hands of Vanderbilt — Vanderbilt!!! — that featured five interceptions from Zach Stoudt that helped drop the Rebels to 1-2 on the season.  Or, you could start with the fact that the Rebels have lost seven straight SEC games overall, and their last SEC road win was Oct. of 2009 — against Vandy.  Regardless of where you start, it all ends with this: Houston Nutt‘s seat may be the hottest in the conference; yes, hotter than that of Mark Richt‘s.  Losing to the likes of Alabama and LSU and Florida is one thing; losing the way they did to — no offense, ‘Dores — Vandy?  Unacceptable.  And could be the beginning of the end of the Nutt Era in Oxford.

John Taylor, and not the Duran Duran bassist
In my preseason Top 25, I placed Florida State at No. 2 based solely on the notion that they would find a way to get past Oklahoma in Week 3 of the season.  Week 3 came and went, and the ‘Noles didn’t get past the Sooners, falling 23-13 to the No. 1 team in the country.  Thus, I’m a loser.  And am even more convinced than ever that preseason polls are the biggest waste of time this side of willingly viewing an episode of Jersey Shore.


— I like to think that I’m pretty well-versed on the game of college football, but, to be perfectly honest with you, I had no clue until earlier this past week that Seth Rogan was the head coach at Auburn University.  For visual proof of that little-known fact, soak in the epic Sweathogs-like glory that is the photo immediately to the right of this little note.  Or, click on it to bask in its enlarged glory.  Either way, we’re all winners today for having that little slice of Internet heaven in our lives.

— Arguably the most significant injury of the weekend occurred in The Swamp, with Tennessee’s Justin Hunter going down with a knee injury early in the first quarter of the Vols’ 33-23 loss to the Gators.  It’s believed UT’s leading receiver suffered an ACL tear and could be lost for the season.

— With the 38-17 win over Louisiana-Monroe, No. 23 TCU’s Gary Patterson has reached the 100-win plateau as a head coach, just the seventh current Div. 1-A (FBS) coach to climb to that mark.  He needs 10 more wins to surpass Dutch Meyers and become the all-time winningest coach in the program’s history.

— In the past 364 days, Nebraska and Washington have faced each other on three occasions (two regular season, one bowl game; the Cornhuskers are 2-1).   In the 120 years prior to that first meeting in September of 2010, the two schools had met on a football field a total of six times.  Today was far more productive for the Cornhuskers than their last meeting with the Huskies, though, as NU was able to come out on top of a 51-38 shootout.

— Exactly a week after suffering an in-game seizure, Jerry Kill was back on Minnesota’s sidelines coaching the Gophers.  Joe Paterno, well over a month after being injured during a freak summer camp accident, was not; the legendary Penn State coach took in the Nittany Lions’ “win” from the coaches’ box high above the field.

— Actual headline from the Hartford Courant: “Iowa State Mascot Suffers Broken Arm At UConn Game Friday; Police Find No Foul Play”


— Of No. 2 Alabama’s 347 yards rushing in their 41-0 stroll over North Texas, an astounding 274 of them came on just five carries.

— In addition to Georgia Tech, two other teams from BcS conferences topped 700 yards of total offense: Missouri with 744 yards in a 69-0 win over Western Illinois, and USF with 745 yards in a 70-17 win over Florida A&M.

— Speaking of the Bulls, Colorado transfer Darnell Scott rushed for 146 yards — on just 12 carries — and three touchdowns in his first career start for the school.

Geno Smith‘s career-high 388 passing yards accounted for just over 80 percent of West Virginia’s total offense as the Mountaineers were able to hold off Maryland 37-31.

— In Utah’s 54-10 “Holy War” waxing of BYU, Utes running back John White IV rushed for 165 yards — in the second half.  That represented quite a turnaround for White-to-the-fourth power as he was held to just nine yards in the first half.

Marcus Lattimore rushed for a career-high 247 yards as South Carolina narrowly escaped getting torpedoed by Navy (see what I did there) in a 24-21 win.

LaMichael James‘ 90-yard touchdown run in Oregon’s 56-7 win over Missouri State was the school’s longest run since 1938 and the longest ever at Autzen Stadium.

— During Auburn’s 17-game winning streak, 10 of their wins — a staggering 59 percent — had come by eight points or less.  That streak was tied for the second-longest in school history.

— Starting in 1999, San Diego State had lost 22 consecutive games against schools from the six BcS conferences.  Thanks to a resounding 42-24 win over Washington State, that streak has come to a merciful end.  And, yes, it counts even though it was just Wazzu.

— In UConn’s 24-20 loss to Iowa State Friday night, Huskies kicker Dave Teggart was a perfect 2-2 on field goals longer than 50 yards.  On field goals shorter than 50 yards?  An imperfect 0-2.  The misses, incidentally, came from 41 and 43 yards.

Big Ten pulls plug on fall football amid COVID-19 concerns

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The Big Ten won’t play football this fall because of concerns about COVID-19, becoming the first of college sports’ power conferences to yield to the pandemic.

The move announced Tuesday comes six day after the conference that includes historic programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State had released a revised conference-only schedule that it hoped would help it navigate a fall season with potential COVID-19 disruptions.

But it was not a surprise. Speculation has run rampant for several days that the Big Ten was moving toward this decision. On Monday, coaches throughout the conference tried to push back the tide, publicly pleading for more time and threatening to look elsewhere for games this fall.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

The Big Ten touts itself as the oldest college athletic conference in the country, dating back to 1896 when it was called the Western Conference, and its schools have been playing football ever since. It became the Big Ten in 1918 and grew into a football powerhouse.

The 14 Big Ten schools span from Maryland and Rutgers on the East Coast to Iowa and Nebraska out west. Not only has it been one of the most successful conferences on the field but off the field it has become one of the wealthiest.

The Big Ten, with its lucrative television network, distributes about $50 million per year to its members.

Trump, coaches push for college football as cracks emerge


President Donald Trump joined a U.S. senator and a number of coaches Monday in the push to save the college football season from a pandemic-forced shutdown.

There was speculation that two of the five most powerful conferences — the Big Ten and the Pac-12 — might call off their seasons. Farther east, Old Dominion canceled fall sports and became the first school in the Bowl Subdivison to break from its league in doing so; the rest of Conference USA was going forward with plans to play.

A Big Ten spokesman said no votes had been taken by its presidents and chancellors on fall sports as of Monday afternoon and the powerful Southeastern Conference made clear it was not yet ready to shutter its fall season.

“Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day,’” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey posted on Twitter. ”Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying.”

A growing number of athletes have spoken out about saving the season with Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence among the group posting their thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #WeWantToPla. Trump threw his support behind them Monday.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled,” he tweeted.

Old Dominion has stopped trying. The Virginia school canceled football and other fall sports less than a week after Conference USA set out a plan to play a football season.

“We concluded that the season – including travel and competition – posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” ODU President Broderick said.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took a different stand, saying the Wolverines have shown players can be safe after they return to school.

“I’m not advocating for football this fall because of my passion or our players desire to play but because of the facts accumulated over the last eight weeks since our players returned to campus on June 13,” he wrote. “I am advocating on August 10 that this virus can be controlled and handled because of these facts.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, picked up on the safer-with-football theme in a letter to the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten.

“Life is about tradeoffs. There are no guarantees that college football will be completely safe — that’s absolutely true; it’s always true,” he wrote. “But the structure and discipline of football programs is very likely safer than what the lived experience of 18- to 22-year-olds will be if there isn’t a season.”

“Here’s the reality: Many of you think that football is safer than no football, but you also know that you will be blamed if there is football, whereas you can duck any blame if you cancel football,” added Sasse, a former college president. “This is a moment for leadership. These young men need a season. Please don’t cancel college football.”

Players unite in push to save college season, create union


Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds saw the tweets from Trevor Lawrence and other college football players pushing for the opportunity to play this season despite the pandemic.

Reynolds, one of the organizers behind a players’ rights movement in the Big Ten, didn’t like the way some on social media seemed to be pitting Lawrence’s message against the efforts of #BigTenUnited and #WeAreUnited.

“There was a lot of division,” Reynolds told AP early Monday morning.

Reynolds got on a call with Lawrence and the star quarterback’s Clemson teammate, Darien Rencher, and within a matter of hours the summer of athlete empowerment found another gear.

College football players from across the country united Sunday in an attempt to save their season and ensure they will no longer be left out of the sport’s biggest decisions.

Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America running back Chuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous other players from Florida State to Oregon posted a graphic on social media with #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited.

“We came to the conclusion, We Want to Play, their message might have been conveyed differently but at the end of the day the message wasn’t too far off from what Big Ten United wanted to promote,” Reynolds said. “Which is we all want to play sports this fall. Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports. They just want to do so safely.”

The #WeAreUnited hashtag was used a week ago by a group of Pac-12 players in announcing a movement they say has the support of hundreds of peers within their conference. They have threatened mass opt-outs by players if concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for athletes are not addressed.

#BigTenUnited arrived on the scene a couple days later, a movement that claimed the backing off 1,000 Big Ten football players. Their demands were more targeted, strictly related to health and safety in dealing with COVID-19.

Sunday night, the call with Reynolds, Rencher and Lawrence led to a Zoom meeting — of course — with some of the Pac-12 players involved in “WeAreUnited.”

Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs got to work on a graphic and now the movement is officially nationwide.

“Just started bouncing ideas off each others’ heads and kind of discussing where we go from here and we ended up coming up with that statement,” said Reynolds, a senior from South Orange, New Jersey.

Under the logos of each Power Five conference — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — the players pronounced their platform:

— We all want to play football this season.

— Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.

— Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.

— Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.

— Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a College Football Players Association.

All of this capped a weekend during which the adults who run college sports seemed to be moving toward shutting it all down because of the pandemic.

A day after the Mid-American Conference became the first of the major college football leagues to cancel the fall season, Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday. They discussed mounting concerns about whether a season can be safely conducted with the pandemic still not under control in the United States.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions on the season have been made, but conceded the outlook has not improved.

“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago? No, we’re not,” he said.

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the Big Ten’s university presidents and chancellors held a previously unscheduled meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with direct knowledge of the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no votes were taken or decisions made about the college football season.

The final call on whether major college football will played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the largest conferences.

With doom and gloom hanging over college football, Lawrence, who has become the face of the sport in a summer of strife, tried to push back the tide with a series of tweets.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence posted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message, and the parents of Ohio State football players weighed in, too.

Reynolds wants athletes to have a say in the meetings that are deciding the fate of their sports — starting now.

”All college athletes through unifying and not being afraid to speak our minds and having social media to kind of mobilize, I think that box on a Zoom call is something that is pretty attainable,” he said. “Especially, in the near future.”

After MAC surrenders to pandemic, will other leagues follow?

MAC football
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In many ways, the Mid-American Conference has little in common with Power Five leagues that first come to mind when fans think of major college football.

There are no 75,000-seat stadiums in the MAC. Million-dollar per year coaches are rare. In a typical season, NFL scouts might find one or two potential first-round draft picks playing at the 12 MAC schools that dot the Midwest. The MAC’s biggest games — #MACtion, if you will — are often played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Its television deal with ESPN pays per year only a few million more than the $9 million Clemson pays coach Dabo Swinney.

Still, the MAC is one of 10 conferences that competes in the NCAA’s highest level of football, and Saturday it became the first of those to surrender to the coronavirus pandemic and cancel the fall sports season.

So is the MAC an anomaly, done in by its small budgets or is this a dire sign of things to come in college football?

“I won’t try to judge what other folks are doing,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “I know we’re all in the same place. They all have their advisers. They’re going to make judgments based on the information they are receiving.”

Not long after the MAC announced it would explore second-semester seasons for all fall sports, including soccer and volleyball, the Big Ten made its own announcement that seemed ominous given the timing.

Tapping the brakes on football’s preseason, the Big Ten told its schools that until further notice full contact practices cannot begin. All teams will remain in the first two days of what is known as the “acclimatization period,” working out in just helmets. The first Big Ten games of the season are scheduled for Sept. 5.

“As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

The MAC’s schools were facing a significant financial burden by trying to maintain costly COVID-19 protocols, while also dealing with the uncertainty that campuses can be opened safely.

A move to the spring, however, could also be budget-buster if it means less revenue from the ESPN deal, which pays each school about $1 million per year, and football ticket sales. The MAC also shares about $90 million per year in College Football Playoff money with four other conferences.

“It would be naive to say that you don’t give thought and consideration to what the financial ramifications of any decision are, but this was a health and well-being decision first and foremost,” Steinbrecher said. “As we sit here today we don’t know what this will mean financially and how the rest of the fall plays out.”

Steinbrecher said the decision effects only fall sports, not basketball or others that begin in the second semester such as baseball, softball and lacrosse.

He added the decision was unanimous among the membership. Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier, supported by NIU President Lisa Freeman, has been a vocal advocate of delaying the season.

“No one wants to have football or sports more than me,” said Frazier, who played football at Alabama in the late 1980s. “Football gave me all the opportunities I have today, but I can’t do it at the expense of people’s lives.”

Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee said he has been feeling a sense of inevitability for two weeks about the MAC canceling fall football, but can’t predict whether this decision trickles up to other conferences.

“Could it? Certainly. There’s certainly a narrative out there that could happen,” Wetherbee said. “No, it wouldn’t shock me if some followed suit. In fact, it would shock me if some didn’t.”

NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline made clear that even though plans for the football season have been adjusted to accommodate potential COVID-19 disruptions like the ones Major League Baseball has had, they are all still aspirational.

“Almost everything would have to be perfectly aligned to continue moving forward,” Hainline said Friday during the NCAA’s weekly video chat on social media.

As the Power Five conferences re-worked their schedules to play exclusively or mostly within their conferences, another of the MAC’s revenue streams dried up.

MAC schools, with athletic budgets in the $30 million range, rely heavily on payouts from road games against power conference teams. Kent State alone had more than $5 million in so-called guarantee games canceled. Whether they can be recouped and when is still to be determined. Without that revenue, the strain became too great of trying to keep players and staff safe during a pandemic.

“Certainly there was a cost attached to it,” Wetherbee said. “But as a league we were prepared to do it.”

The move to try spring football has already been going on in the second tier of Division I.

Nine of 13 conferences that play in the Championship Subdivision, have postponed fall football seasons. The first was the Ivy League in early July.

Now it’s the MAC, which was among the first conferences to limit fan access to its basketball tournament in March as concerns for the virus began to soar across the country. On March 12, the MAC was among many conferences to call off their tournaments hours before the NCAA canceled all of March Madness.

“If you told me in March we’d be here today,” Steinbrecher said, “I’d never have believed it”