(Stats Perform) – FCS conference commissioners have talked this offseason about how the 2020 college football season may lack “competitive equity.”
It sounds a bit odd on the surface considering conferences usually promote a level playing field for their schools, but 2020 is unlike any year we’ve known. If and when games happen, one team may have logged more offseason activities and practice time than its opponent, or one might be playing its third game and the other may be kicking off its campaign. Hence, the lack of competitive equity.
The scenario has schools recognizing they may have to throw “the fairness thing out the window and just be really excited if we can have college football this fall,” Big Sky Conference commissioner Tom Wistrcill said.
The new normal in college athletics sure feels like the abnormal. Amid the doom and gloom of COVID-19 outbreaks and concerns, colleges are eliminating programs, skipping the season and trying to keep athletic budgets afloat.
Eventually, the new abnormal could mean an FCS season will not build up to a postseason.
That would be OK. Just be happy for college football this fall.
The 24-team playoffs are one of the bigger sources of pride in the subdivision – something never matched in Division I by the larger FBS. The prevalence of dynasty programs over four decades of the playoffs – the latest North Dakota State – has brought added attention to a level that should have been 127 schools deep this season, and in a normal year drawing 5 to 6 million fans.
The Ivy League’s canceling of its fall sports season on Wednesday has been the biggest blow to the list of non-conference games eliminated by schools. The general fear is other conferences could follow the Ivy decision and create a domino-like collapse to the season.
The health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and everybody involved in the sport come first. The overwhelming focus of the 2020 schedule is going to be conference games, which are more regional, and often involve bus tips instead of flights. If that means an FBS matchup like North Dakota State at Oregon or an FCS showdown such as Weber State at Northern Iowa is eliminated, then we have to accept it.
Some schools may play only six or eight of their original 11 games, and perhaps that will be only in conference. Try telling spring athletes they could have another six or eight competitions from what they had taken away and see what kind of gratitude they’d have.
Maybe the situation will turn out better than the outlook – our world needs it – but if the 2020 FCS season only gets through November and there’s no playoffs games in December leading to a championship in January, it’s OK. “Student” comes first in student-athlete. Nobody needs to be put in danger, and that may mean skipping non-regional games, including in the playoffs.
The FCS can’t be consumed by this season needing to lead to the usual form of postseason finality. Let’s hope there is some type of season – fair, not fair, whatever – but some type of season.