Football or no football?

When you think of fall, you automatically think of the leaves changing, cooler weather, and pumpkin-spiced everything. There’s one thing I believe in particular that everyone is looking forward to this fall, and that is college football. Well, maybe.

With what many people consider an unofficial official college football season set to begin, and two of the Power-5 conferences delaying their seasons until the spring or having second thoughts about having a season, this season seems incomplete. The COVID-19 pandemic has really taken the sports world and turned it upside down when it comes to collegiate athletics. Yes, we have sports back, such as the NBA Bubble, MLB playing in empty stadiums and the NFL, but the only thing that is still up in the air is college football. The ACC, SEC, and BIG 12 have all agreed to play a conference-only schedule or a shortened schedule. Shortened schedules and conference-only schedules canceled or delayed some big-time games.

The bigger games will come later—unless they thrown off-course by the pandemic. That uncertainty, and the absence of some traditional bedrock programs, creates a conflicted backdrop. We’ve simply never been down a road like this before.

This season I am on both sides of the spectrum as one of my favorite teams, the Oregon Ducks, have opted out of the season as the PAC-12 has decided to cancel all fall sports. On the other hand, the Clemson Tigers in the ACC has been an advocate for getting the college football season up and going. I am highly disappointed that the PAC-12 has opted out of fall sports as the Ducks have had their best football recruitment class in school history this past offseason, as well as a majority of players coming back and putting off their draft eligibility for one more year just to play together one more time.

Clemson Tigers head football coach Dabo Swinney has been one of the most prominent voices for playing this season; he talked about how players were given the option to opt-out of the season due to the virus. Swinney said, “There are no Clemson players – and that includes walk-ons – who have decided against playing this season.” Clemson football had over 35 payers test positive for the COVID-19 virus, although only a select few were symptomatic. Dabo Swinney praised the medical and training staff of handling the situation at hand, “Their job was not only to get the Tigers back on track but also to set the tone for a college football season that was at that time – and still might be – in jeopardy going forward.”

That is how it is all over the country, one side or the other. One good thing that has come out of it all is that the NCAA granted everyone an extra year of eligibility to all of the seniors who it has affected. But college football, especially in the South, is more than just football; it is a livelihood for these fans. Waking up on Saturday mornings and either tailgating or sitting in front of the TV for the day is something that we have all been waiting for since January and is right around the corner. Or is it?

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