By Brad Meyer | Published 07/11/2020 | College Football
Tampa, FL – It started with the Big Ten’s announcement that member schools will only play a conference schedule this fall. While football is the major revenue driver, this statement applied to other fall sports including men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
The conference stated this is necessary to protect the health, safety and wellness of student-athletes. With most non-conference games being home games for the Big Ten but necessary operating income for the visiting team, is this really about protecting the health, safety and wellness of players?
In support of this, I hope the Big Ten and the Pac-12 (that eagerly followed with similar announcement), soon post just how they are going to keep players healthier and safer by only playing conference mates. Especially, when conferences, like the Pac-12 currently have half of their membership located in states currently considered hotbeds for Covid-19. How could Arizona State showing up at Utah and make any sense when Utah might be better off with an in-community game vs BYU? Or even Montana State?
In a Covid-19 impacted college football landscape, perhaps the Power Five Commissioners recognize the changing landscape and find that with each game above the mandated and self-enriching conference schedule there is a financial shortfall. Also, with the broad impact of the virus, the College Football Playoff will be making P5 friendly adjustments to selection criteria.
And let’s not fail to mention the cost of “payday” games when current social distancing does not allow you to fill a stadium. The Bulls are drooling over a huge financial windfall of $1.9 million for a game that was negotiated to be played in September 5 as a result of Texas altering an earlier agreement. On the other coast FAU had a $1.2 million dollar payday game with Minnesota. Now, it’s likely both are in the hands of attorneys.
Some Power Five programs are struggling financially. Minnesota is trying to work itself out of a $10 million coronavirus-caused budgetary shortfall.
But if the very wealthy P5s are examining the path to survival, what is it like for USF, FAU and other non P5 schools? Without payday games many schools budgets can be turned upside down, especially as you look beyond the American Athletic and other Group of Five conferences.
So is it budget cutting or is it health, safety and wellness? Or does that trio of heartwarming issues provide cover for the Power Five to continue on their path to complete independence and the quest to strip the remaining programs of any funding or relevance? I mean if it’s about health and safety, who would push back?