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Bill Hancock says he and staff planning for ‘on time’ College Football Playoff

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Another day, another story on the coronavirus pandemic’s potential impact on the 2020 season, this time as it relates to the College Football Playoff.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was roundly criticized when he argued that college coaches should get back to the business of football May 1, with players following shortly thereafter. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney took numerous shots when he very boldly claimed there’s no doubt the college football season would start on time.

OSU was forced to publicly address the kerfuffle kicked up by Gundy. An unapologetic Swinney, meanwhile, defended his faith-based opinion.

Last Thursday, a report from NFL insider Adam Schefter stated that among “people in and around college football this week, there is ‘strong conviction‘ there will be college football this season.” ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, meanwhile, made some noise late last month where he proclaimed that he will “be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football.” His College GameDay partner, Rece Davis, responded with guarded optimism. Sunday, the man Fowler replaced on GameDay, Chris Fowler, stated that “informed speculation” has the 2020 season starting February of next year.

If/when there is a season — as we have stated myriad times, those in the sport will move heaven and earth (twice if need be) to avoid the financial calamity that would follow a canceled season — there will, of course, be a College Football Playoff. Monday, the executive director of the CFP, Bill Hancock, told ESPN.com that he and his staffers moving forward with plans as if there will be a season and a playoff to determine a champion. And planning for it to be played “on time.”

From the report:

Hancock said there currently isn’t any particular benchmark date to make major decisions by, but that the planning period for organizing the playoff “is extensive,” and that the staff is currently finishing the budgeting process. They also have to design and purchase décor, lease buses, secure hotels, contract for services with the media, and complete a variety of other planning the public doesn’t usually see.

“There’s a long ramp-up time for this,” he said. “Could it be shorter? Sure. What is it? I don’t know. Would it be the same? No, it wouldn’t be the same. I can promise you the Super Bowl people are knee-deep into Tampa prep right now. Knee deep. We all do the same thing. We’re all very deliberate about our planning. Could we do it without that ramp-up time? Yes.

Hancock also declined to play the what-if game when it comes to the college football season being canceled.

“It’s only April,” he said. “It’s just too soon. It’s premature. The decision about whether to have a season and a CFP won’t be made by the coaches and commissioners. It will be made by the medical people. We have to be prepared, and we will be prepared, to have a CFP.”

The championship game for the 2020 college football season is scheduled to be played Jan. 11, 2021, in Miami Garden’s Hard Rock Stadium. If the season doesn’t start until February as Fowler stated was a possibility, that game would be pushed back to sometime in June. Two months before the 2021 college football season is scheduled to kick off.

Days later and completely missing the point, Mike Gundy apologizes for those offended by comments

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Mike Gundy would like to apologize.

No, not for what the Oklahoma State head coach said, just to those who took offense to what he said. That distinction is key to note when reading what was sent to the media on Saturday — four days after he made several controversial comments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic on a teleconference with beat reporters.

“I have been made aware that comments from my press conference have offended some,” Gundy said in a statement released by the school. “It was never my intention to offend anyone and I apologize. My first priority is and will always be the student-athletes and doing what is best for the program and the university.”

OSU was quick to come out and distance themselves from Gundy’s comments that same day. Their head coach however, seems to be sticking by what he said until he otherwise gets his head out of the sand.

Whether you are a die-hard in orange and black or just a regular college football fan, that aspect might be what is so disturbing about this entire episode.

What Gundy didn’t say in his “apology” is far more notable than the fact that he issued a statement at all. He didn’t say he was sorry for suggesting football players could fight the virus off and be fine, as we saw with Florida State OL Anthony Boselli and Boise State assistant Zac Alley. He didn’t say he was being irresponsible in putting business interests ahead of unpaid players’ health and safety. He didn’t say that using COVID-19 tests on hundreds of football players just to get back by May 1st instead of testing those in Oklahoma that desperately need them is a bad idea. He didn’t say he was wrong in putting cold hard cash ahead of lives.

Oh and he didn’t say that doing what is best for the Cowboys football program is not mutually exclusive right now for what is best for those student-athletes he is supposed to be responsible.

Just about everybody with any interest in college football is hoping for a return to the gridiron this fall. Everybody wants something normal to happen right now in an era of social distancing and staying at home. But the fact of the matter is, Gundy using questionable news sources to support an even more questionable point of view that is not in line with health experts (nor his own school administration’s stance) is simply reckless for somebody of his stature.

Instead of making PSA’s to help like Ed Orgeron and Nick Saban are doing, OSU’s coach is doing a disservice to the very same cause he wants to champion: getting back to football this fall. Others far more important than Gundy have noted that there could be no fall sports — including football — at all in 2020. That happens if people do not take the coronavirus seriously or want to advance advice contrary to what authorities are saying can reduce the spread of it.

Football cannot return until the country gets to a state where it is allowed to. Until then, we will all have to do our part to get there as quickly as possible.

Mike Gundy isn’t doing his and such hallow statements are just about the worst kind of leadership anybody involved in college football can display in these trying times.

Report: ‘Strong conviction’ among people in the sport there will be college football this season

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It appears a pair of highly-criticized college football coaches have some company. Anonymous company, but company nonetheless.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was roundly criticized when he argued that college coaches should get back to the business of football May 1, with players following shortly thereafter. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney took numerous shots when he very boldly claimed there’s no doubt the college football season would start on time.

OSU was forced to publicly address the kerfuffle kicked up by Gundy. An unapologetic Swinney, meanwhile, defended his faith-based opinion.

Thursday, however, an ESPN NFL insider offered additional optimism. In a tweet, Adam Schefter wrote that “there is a ‘strong conviction’ there will be college football this season.”

Below is the full text of Schefter’s tweet:

Speaking to people in and around college football this week, there is “strong conviction” there will be college football this season. Uncertainty about when – multiple scenarios being debated – but they sound certain there still will be college football this season.

As is the case will of these types of opinions, though, there’s no timeline attached to it.  Nor should there be, at least at this point.

At this point, it’s decidedly uncertain when the 2020 college football season will start. Or if it will even start, despite Schefter’s positive missive. There’s chatter that it could start in October, although one Bay Area health official doesn’t expect sports to return until at least Thanksgiving. January has been floated as a possibility as well. So has the spring of next year.

Playing games with no fans has also been tossed around. More than one prominent athletic director, though, has tossed cold water on such a plan. Fan-less games would very likely be an absolute, utter Hail Mary of a last resort to salvage some semblance of a season.

We’ve said myriad times before and we’ll continue to say it: The only certainty in all of this is that everyone involved in the sport will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a season is played in some form or fashion. Head coaches, though, will be far down on the list of people who will determine when a season starts. Or even if it does.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 staff taking 10% pay cut

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The Big 12 isn’t immune to the financial difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic.

On the first day of this month, Iowa State announced a one-year reduction in pay and bonuses for all of its coaches.  Athletic directors at Oregon (HERE) and Wyoming (HERE) are taking cuts in pay.  Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who reportedly made north of $5 million a year ago, is taking a 20% pay cut.

Thursday, Scott’s Big 12 counterpart, Bob Bowlsby, confirmed that he will be taking a 10% cut in pay through the end of this year.  That pay cut will also apply to the other staff in the conference’s office.  The commissioner also highlighted other cost-saving initiatives the league will undertake.

“We’ve eliminated all year-end bonuses and are formulating a reduced scope of operation plan that saves quite a bit of money, but we’re a relatively small operation,” Bowlsby stated. “Most of our resources are passed through to our members.”

Related to the financial ramifications of the pandemic, Bowlsby also expressed concern about “whether or not we can have a full and robust season.”

“Virtually every program is highly reliant on football revenue,” the commissioner told ESPN.com. “We’re making lots of contingency plans, but if you don’t get the anticipated number of games in, you lose the donations, you lose the sponsorships, you lose the gate receipts and you lose the TV. It’s potentially very impactful.”

At this point, it’s decidedly uncertain — unless you’re Dabo Swinney or Mike Gundy — when the 2020 college football season will start.  Or if it will even start.  There’s chatter that it could start in October, although one Bay Area health official doesn’t expect sports to return until at least Thanksgiving.  January has been floated as a possibility as well.  So has the spring of next year.

The only certainty in all of this is that everyone involved in the sport will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a season is played in some form or fashion.

Virginia Tech AD: ‘We would be open to shifting the (CFB) season’

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Virginia Tech doesn’t speak for all of college football but a key figure at the school opened up about massive potential changes coming to the sport as a result of the coronavirus.

Speaking on a conference call Wednesday, athletic director Walt Babcock told reporters that the entire calendar for CFB could be moved back just to get a full season in.

“Everyone wants to try to play a football season if it’s safe,” Babcock said, according to Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Mike Barber. “We would be open to shifting the season, even if it overlapped with other sports.”

That comment isn’t just some AD speaking either. Babcock is a member of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee, a key decision-making body. While he doesn’t speak for the committee as a whole, the fact that he is even bringing up the topic is notable.

It goes without saying that nobody knows just how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will play out over the coming months. Some, like Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundyhave advocated for bringing players back to campus as early as May. Most others are far more pessimistic.

Babcock also noted that he would rather wait to make things are safe enough for fans to return to stadiums as well. That is in line with other AD’s, with Texas A&M’s Ross Bjork noting the financial impact of playing in empty stadiums to go along with the eerie feeling.

Hokies head coach Justin Fuente was also on the call and was asked for his thoughts on a potential return to the gridiron. He seemed to indicate that while it’s not ideal, he may need as little as a month of camp prior to taking the field for a live game:

That is a bit of a contrast to USC’s Clay Helton, who indicated he would need four weeks just to get ready for fall camp — so roughly two months before the season starts. Such conflicting views should underscore how difficult it will be for everybody to gather in support for one unified start date to the 2020 season.

Leaders in college athletics will have plenty of time to work through all that in the coming days, weeks and months. The good news, at least, is that there are far fewer questions about if college football gets played again and far more comments about when it gets played again going forward.