Every college football season is a grind for its players and coaches, but 2020, with its invasive Covid-19 protocols and bottomless spending put against the severe depletion of revenue returns, has taken the struggle to another level.

Because of that onerous nature, the difficulty of keeping players and coaches from testing positive on an every day basis, and the loss of normal social and fan interactions that make the sport fun, programs are opting out of the opportunity to compete in bowl games in unprecedented numbers, faster even than bowls are cancelling their own events.

Despite the relaxed restrictions for qualifying, already 12 Power Five teams have announced they would not accept a bowl invitation of any kind, effectively ending their seasons last weekend or, in some cases, tomorrow.

More announcements are expected in the coming days and weeks. 

Boston College coach Jeff Hafley told media that losing their reward for the bowl, “a week away with your friends,” without restrictions was one reason to let players wrap up the year and head home to spend the holidays with their families. 

The University of Virginia’s athletic director, Carla Williams, offered further justification in a press release to the media, citing the overall toll taken on athletes who submitted to the heavy-handed process to stay Covid-free and and compete this season.   

“Unless you live it each and every day, it is impossible to understand the mental, emotional and physical sacrifice these young men have made since their return in July,” Williams said. “I am proud of their commitment and their incredible maturity. Our students did everything we asked them to do and they were rewarded with the opportunity to compete in the sport they love when many doubted it could be done. The life lessons gained over the last nine months will serve them well.”

The only invitations this season that are a certainty are the New Years Six bowl games and the bigger competitions around New Years Day. Everything is at this point is a flip of the coin.