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Anonymous FBS athletic director: ‘If there’s no season, we will be f*****’

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If you didn’t realize how important college football is to an athletic department’s bottom line, this should highlight it.

In the midst of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, some connected to the game of college football are decidedly pessimistic that the upcoming season will be played. Others are expressing cautious optimism. For now, at least.

Brett McMurphy of The Stadium conducted a survey of 130 athletic directors with FBS programs, with 112 of them participating. According to McMurphy, the ADs “were asked to rank their optimism on the upcoming season being played from ‘1’ (will not be played) to ’10’ (definitely will be played).”

Not a single AD gave less than a “5” in response, meaning everyone who responded, at least at this time, feels there’s at least a 50-50 chance the season will go off as planned. A slight majority of respondents (51%) assigned either the numbers seven or eight in McMurphy’s survey. One-quarter of them were decidedly optimistic with either a nine or 10 as a response. Most of that optimism was on the part of Group of Five programs that, already financially reeling from the distilled NCAA’s revenue distribution last month, desperately need a college football season to be played.

If the college football season is to start on time — the first games are scheduled for Aug. 29 — what would be the absolute latest teams could start reconvening and prepping for the 2020 campaign? The answer you get depends on the individual you ask. Some would say early June at the absolute latest. Others have said the middle of July.

So, what if the season is canceled? Completely?

“If there’s no season, we will be f*****,” an anonymous AD told McMurphy.

A tweet from Ross Dellenger of SI.com very plainly illustrates how reliant athletic departments are on revenue from college football.

Suffice to say, if the 2020 college football season is completely wiped out, non-revenue sports will be cut. Lots of them will be shuttered, more than likely.

The good news, such as it is, is that the powers-that-be in the sport will go to great lengths to save the 2020 college football season. In fact, one report earlier today suggested that the season could start as late as January of next year. How that would work with players who are eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft would have to be worked out, as would myriad other issues.

While it’s way too early to form a concrete opinion, there’s little doubt that all connected to the sport will exhaust every option to save the 2020 college football season. And, if the season is canceled? It’ll mean we all have a helluva lot more to worry about than sports.

Kirk Herbstreit would be ‘shocked’ if college football is played this fall

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No college football this fall?  The drumbeat for such a possibility grows louder by the day.

In the midst of the growing coronavirus pandemic, Mack Brown earlier this week expressed concern about whether or not the college football season would be played as scheduled.  Whether it would be a partial season.  Or no season at all.

“There is a fear of ‘would we have a season?’ ‘Would we have a partial season?’ ‘What does a partial season mean,’” North Carolina head coach said. “There is a great concern because of the remedy that comes in with football.

“The biggest problem is you’re not sure when it ends, and we can’t get those answers at this point.”

Compared to one prominent college football personality, Brown is downright optimistic.

During a radio interview Thursday night, Kirk Herbstreit was asked about the prospects of teams taking the fall this season.  According to the ESPN television personality, he would be “shocked” if it happened.

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens,” Herbstreit stated, by way of TMZ.com.

“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a [coronavirus] vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”

Because of the cancellation of March Madness, schools saw their revenue distribution from the NCAA drastically diminished.  That is expected to take a heavy toll on non-FBS schools.  If the college football season were to be canceled?  That would severely impact FBS schools, especially those in the Group of Five.

College Football Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on March 24, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Georgia Tech DT Brandon Adams dies
THE SYNOPSIS: Just 21 years old, the defensive lineman died after he collapsed while practicing “step dancing” with friends, hitting his head on the pavement as he fell backwards. It was subsequently reported that “after going into convulsions, he began to foam at the mouth.”

THE HEADLINE: Georgia early enrollee arrested on disorderly conduct charge
THE SYNOPSIS: Tyrique Stevenson was a five-star member of Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class who was the third Bulldog player arrested in a month. As a true freshman, the defensive back played in all 14 games and was the team’s co-winner as Defensive Newcomer of the Year.

2018

THE HEADLINE: In addition to Notre Dame series, Alabama reportedly working on home-and-home with Texas, too
THE SYNOPSIS: Earlier in the day, it was reported that an Alabama-Notre Dame home-and-home was potentially in the works. One month later, that series was confirmed. Two months later, the Alabama-Texas home-and-home was officially announced.

2016

THE HEADLINE: Kentucky signee stabbed six times in weekend incident
THE SYNOPSIS: Jordan Bonner, at home visiting his infant son in a Cleveland (OH) suburb, was stabbed six times in the chest, abdomen and back by an individual who was subsequently arrested and charged with aggravated assault. The charges were eventually dropped as both individuals claimed self-defense. The linebacker recovered from his injuries and went on to play in 11 games as a true freshman.

THE HEADLINE: Nick Saban named one of Fortune’s ‘World’s Greatest Leaders’
THE SYNOPSIS: The Alabama head coach came in at No. 11 on the 50-person list, ahead of the likes of U2 frontman and philanthropist Bono (No. 14), Blackrock CEO Larry Fink (No. 21), Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez (No. 24), Argentine president Maurizio Macri  (No. 26), the first women to graduate from Ranger School (No. 34), the heads of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (No. 41) and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (No. 48).

2015

THE HEADLINE: Surprise! The NCAA went out of bounds on Reggie Bush investigation
THE SYNOPSIS: How ’bout we pick that NCAA scab one more time, Trojan Nation? Not much else to do.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Marshawn Lynch scores TD in Cal spring game
THE SYNOPSIS: A Seattle Seahawks running back at the time, the Cal legend “scored” from 22 yards out as he scampered into the end zone untouched. “We told the guys if anybody tackled him, it was going to be a $25 million fine,” then-head coach Sonny Dykes said at the time. “I didn’t want to be getting a call from Pete (Carroll, Lynch’s NFL coach).

2012

THE HEADLINE: Texas A&M AD on Big 12: ‘I regret that it is coming to an end’
THE SYNOPSIS: A&M’s athletic director at the time, Bill Byrne, may have “regretted” the Aggies’ move to the SEC at the time, but the school’s bank account sure wasn’t. And still isn’t.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Air Force pilots in Ohio State-Iowa flyover flap punished
THE SYNOPSIS: Four Air Force pilots in T-38 fighter jets buzzed Kinnick Stadium in a planned flyover following the playing of the national anthem for the Ohio State-Iowa game Nov. 20 the year before. The only problem? Per regulations, the jets were supposed to be at least 1,000 feet above ground level as they flew over the stadium. As it turns out, they weren’t even close to hitting that mark.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Black recruits urged to avoid Gamecocks
THE SYNOPSIS: Members of the black community in the Palmetto State — including legislators — urged football recruits to stay away from the University of South Carolina. Why? Because the school’s board of trustees was about to lose its lone African-American member.

2009

THE HEADLINE: PAC-10 HIRES HEAD OF WOMEN’S TENNIS TOUR AS COMMISH
THE SYNOPSIS: Larry Scott officially replaced Tom Hansen as the commissioner of the Conference Formerly Known as the Pac-10 on this date. To the bewilderment and/or angst of some, Scott’s remains in his post 11 years later. How much longer his tenure lasts, though, is to be determined.

(*Yes, back in the day, we used to scream out our headlines at our readers in all-caps. The move to NBC a couple of months later ended that practice.)

Arizona State mourns death of Sun Devils RB great Benny Malone

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Similar to Clemson, the Arizona State football program is mourning the loss of one of the Sun Devils’ greatest players ever.

Friday evening, the Arizona State football announced in a press release that Benny Malone had died earlier this week following a lengthy battle with diabetes. Malone was 68 years old.

From the Arizona State football program’s release:

Malone starred at Arizona State from 1971-73, playing running back under legendary Head Coach Frank Kush. He was a key part of one of the most successful eras in the history of the Sun Devil Football program. Arizona State compiled an incredible 32-4 record, winning the Fiesta Bowl in each of the three seasons that Malone was a member of the backfield.

In 1983, Benny Malone was inducted into the Sun Devil Athletics Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Despite his career ending over 40 years ago, some of Malone’s incredible rushing numbers help him remain near the top of the school record book. Before Eno Benjamin’s 312-yard effort against Oregon State in 2018, it was Malone who held the single-game record for most rushing yards. Known for his explosiveness dating back to his days as a high school track star, he held the program record for 45 years. During a record-setting day on the road at Oregon State (Oct. 27, 1973), Malone ran for 250 yards (on only 24 carries), breaking Leon Burton’s 18-year-old school record. Malone also rushed for five touchdowns that day, matching another school record at the time. The 250-yard performance was one of ten 100-yard rushing games in his career, putting him in the Top-10 in program history for the category.

Malone finished his outstanding career with 2,328 rushing yards on 347 carries, scoring 25 touchdowns. He enjoyed a breakout senior season in 1973 that saw him run for 1,129 yards, joining an exclusive club of Sun Devils to finish a season with at least 1,000 yards rushing. Teaming up with fellow Sun Devil Athletics Hall of Famer Woody Green, the duo form one of the most feared backfields in the nation. In 1973, they combined for 2,499 yards, the most total yardage by a pair of running backs in the same season in school history. Malone immediately showed off his big-play ability in his first season on the Arizona State varsity team, rushing for 857 yards on 8.2 yards/attempt in 1971.

The Malone name is all over the Sun Devil Football record book. Benny Malone and his brother, Art, represent one of the most iconic sets of siblings in the history of Sun Devil Athletics. Art Malone, who passed away in 2012, played at ASU from 1967-69 and is celebrated as one of the greatest running backs to ever wear the Maroon & Gold. Benny followed in his brother’s footsteps, putting together one of the best careers ever by a Sun Devil running back.

According to the school, Malone is survived by his wife, Laura, who was his childhood sweetheart, seven children and nine grandchildren.

New CDC recommendation effectively ends any chance of spring practice for college football teams starting back up

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Thanks to the coronavirus, a new reality has slammed headfirst into college football.  Again.

Because of the spread of COVID-19 in this country, Power Five conferences such as the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 had canceled all spring sports, which included spring football.  The other two college Power Fives, the ACC and SEC, had suspended spring football until at least April 15 for the latter and until further notice for the former.  On top of that, the NCAA has halted all face-to-face recruiting, either on-campus or off, until mid-April.

Sunday evening, however, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ratcheted up the stakes as the agency issued a statement in which it recommended that all gatherings of 50 or more people be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks.  Such a timeline would take us through the middle of May.  At the earliest.

Boiling it down, any flicker of hope that spring practice in college football will resume has been extinguished.

Below is the full update from the CDC:

Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.

Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

This recommendation does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus. This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.

Coming out of this crisis, whenever it is, certainly begs the question as to what the NCAA will allow college football teams to do to prepare for the start of the 2020 season.  Summer practices on top of workouts ahead of the start of summer camp?  An extended summer camp?

Or, looking at the glass half-empty, will the 2020 college football season even start on time?

Myriad questions but, at this point, no answers.  Of course, college football being played is the least of worries for a growing number of individuals in this country of ours.

Stay safe, all y’all.