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College Football in 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 April 1, 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?)

2018

THE HEADLINE: Mark Emmert: We can’t pay football and basketball players because it would kill non-revenue sports
THE SYNOPSIS: Two years later, players are on the verge of being allowed to earn money off of their names, images and likenesses… and saving schools the “pain” of having to pay them.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Alabama fans kick Deshaun Watson out of Tuscaloosa bar
THE SYNOPSIS: This offseason story developed after Watson engineered a last-second Clemson win in the College Football Playoff title game win over Alabama.  Initially, it was reported that former Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson was part of the crowd of Crimson Neanderthals hassling Watson.  Instead, it turned out that Anderson was merely trying to diffuse the situation.

2016

THE HEADLINE: Three Iowa State players rescue woman from drowning on spring break trip
THE SYNOPSIS: Anthony LazardJack SpreenJoe Doran were true heroes on this day three years ago.  They jumped in and saved the life of a 22-year-old woman who drove her car into Laguna Madre Bay as the trio watched and then sprung into action. “That car completely sank in less than a minute and if not for them jumping into the water and pulling the driver out, she would most certainly have drowned,” officer Michael Schiltz said at the time.

THE HEADLINE: Art Briles named in federal sexual assault lawsuit against Baylor
THE SYNOPSIS: Even a half-decade later, the stench surrounding Briles is still strong.  Despite said stench, Briles is still serving as a high school head coach. For a program with its own off-field issues.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Texas AD: ‘I don’t see us focusing on’ renewing A&M rivalry
THE SYNOPSIS: Texas A&M left for the SEC in 2012.  Since then, at various points, each side has claimed to want a renewal of the in-state rivalry.  Of late, though? “[F]rom our standpoint it’s really not a big deal to us, and you know, we’ve kind of moved on,” A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said in November of last year.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Female kicker falls short in Hokies tryout
THE SYNOPSIS: Lauren Luttrell was part of a 10-person kicking tryout at Virginia Tech.  She failed, though, to advance to the final three.

2011

THE HEADLINE: That’ll Bruin your day: projected OL starter fractures ankle
THE SYNOPSIS: I just liked the punny UCLA headline.  Your mileage may vary.  A lot.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Kelly on Irish: ‘We stink right now’
THE SYNOPSIS: A little reverse psychology by Brian Kelly? Notre Dame went on to an 8-5 record in Kelly’s first season. Two years later, they won a school-record 12 games en route to a national championship game appearance versus Alabama.

2009

THE HEADLINE: MEYER HAS NO PROBLEM WITH CONTROVERSIAL LINEMAN*
THE SYNOPSIS: Urban Meyer.  A player with an off-field issue.  Lather.  Rinse. Repeat.

(*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 mercifully ended that practice.)

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.

SEC to begin allowing virtual instruction next week

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The SEC is about to allow coaches to use remote tools to instruct their players, according to a report from Auburn Undercover on Friday.

Citing a memo sent to SEC athletic departments, Auburn Undercover says the new policy will go into effect beginning on Monday, March 30. According to the memo, coaching staff members will be allowed to provide “technical or tactical instruction” to players. Strength and conditioning coaches may still provide players with specific workouts to do on heir own, but no coaches may observe the players while working out.

In these times, having any kind of chance to interact with players is important, even if it must be done through a computer. It’s better than nothing, after all. And while it may not be a perfect substitute for spring football practices, it at least keeps the lines of communication within the program more open.

As previously reported, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was quoted in a radio interview as having a concern about the Big 12 not allowing coaches to make use of their virtual options the way coaches in the ACC have. Riley noted players in the ACC are able to receive video instruction and training gear through the mail. The Big 12 may change their policies in the next week to be more accommodating for coaches and players in a similar fashion to what the SEC is doing.

Clemson remains slight 2020 title favorite over Ohio State, Alabama

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With the entire sports world essentially in hibernation because of the coronavirus pandemic, how about we roll out a new set of college football title odds?  What could it hurt?  Besides some feelings, of course.

When last we left the world of college football title odds, the Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook had Clemson listed as a 9/4 favorite to win the 2020 national championship. Ohio State was next at 3/1, followed by Alabama at 6/1.

Even as spring practice has been scrapped across college football, one offshore sportsbook still opted to update its title odds. In this set, Clemson remains the favorite at 1/2. Ohio State (2/3) and Alabama (4/5) were next.

A handful of other teams are listed with title odds below 10/1:

  • Oklahoma, 5/4
  • Georgia, 3/2
  • LSU, 2/1
  • Notre Dame, 11/4
  • Florida, 7/2
  • Texas, 4/1
  • Texas A&M, 4/1
  • Auburn, 5/1
  • Oregon, 5/1
  • Penn State, 6/1
  • Michigan, 13/2

It should be noted that no Group of Five schools were listed in this set of odds.

One final note: In July of last year, Alabama and Clemson were the co-favorites to win the 2019 national championship at 9/4. And the team that wound up winning that title? LSU sat at 20/1, behind the likes of Georgia (6/1), Michigan (12/1) (chuckle), Ohio State (14/1) and Oklahoma (16/1).

Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma all made the College Football Playoff this past season. Alabama, meanwhile, missed out on the playoff party for the first time since the system debuted following the 2014 regular season.

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.