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Cheese Curds, 8/10: College football’s 2020 season looks doomed

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While players are starting to present a unified front in an effort to force safety protocols and assure opt out and eligibility provisions, the big conferences (starting with the Big Ten) are heading toward shutting down the season entirely.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The NFL is hard at work moving towards a season in 2020. The biggest deciding factor on whether it happens will be the collective efforts of everyone in the league to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19, and so far the league has seemingly been doing a decent job. After the first wave of COVID-19 testing when players entered team facilities and several landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, only a handful of players have newly received that designation.

That and the ability of the players to have representation and bargaining power with the league through the NFLPA have the league optimistic about a season this fall. College football, however, is in a very different boat.

The first FBS conference to postpone its fall football season was the MAC, which announced that decision this weekend. Now it appears that the Big Ten is also headed that way, with all but two of the conference’s athletic directors supporting that move. (Thanks, Iowa and Nebraska.) Now the conference is hoping to collaborate with the other Power Five conferences to issue a joint announcement postponing the entire season.

This is the latest problem that stems from college athletes not having any group representation, as there is little to no consistency across conferences about how to try to play safely this fall. And with many universities still planning to open up campuses to the broader student body, the likelihood of a team getting through a season without an outbreak appears particularly low.

Several players have expressed their interest in playing the 2020 season on social media recently, asking for some similar protections to those negotiated in the NFL for the fall. The list of requests includes health & safety protocol mandates, opt-out provisions, maintaining eligibility, and more. See here for the full statement via Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence’s Twitter account.

Of course, if college football is off the schedule in the fall, the NFL could step in and fill the void on Saturdays, a move that they are already considering. Who knows - maybe they’ll find a way to ratchet up a short-term expansion of the league’s TV deal to bring in extra revenue and alleviate the losses expected from not having fans in the stadiums.

In any case, don’t expect your alma mater to be fielding any fall sports this year.

Power 5 conferences moving toward canceling fall sports - Sports Illustrated
As mentioned above, the Big Ten looks poised to cancel or postpone its college football season, with the report coming less than a week after the conference announced a planned 2020 schedule.

NFL referees who opt out get $30K stipend, guaranteed job in 2021 | ESPN
After working out the details with the NFLPA to play the 2020 season, the league now has the framework of a deal for its referees who would like to opt out this year -- an important consideration since their average age is 52 years old.

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Uncertainty likely delaying Bakhtiari, Clark deals | Packersnews.com (subscription)
With the 2020 season hardly a sure thing and no answers yet about a salary cap in 2021, it's hard to impossible to work on a contract extension for a player who is scheduled to be a free agent in the spring. Unfortunately, the Packers have several critical players in that boat right now.

Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling ‘taking right steps’ to bounce back in 2020 | Packers Wire
With no other receivers on the roster possessing blazing speed, MVS could be the Packers' X-factor in the passing game. But he needs to find a big improvement from where he was at the end of last season to provide that spark.

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No word yet on whether attaching giant plastic googly eyes achieves the same result.