South Carolina AD hints at possibility of conferences making own decisions on starting 2020 CFB season
Could there be a college football season in the B1G without one in the Pac-12? Could the SEC return to the field in 2020 while the Mountain West takes a year off? According to University of South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner, it’s a possibility.
Tanner told ESPN on Friday that he believes the possibility of COVID-19 outbreaks at different times across the country could create problems for conferences in college athletics to align. More specifically, he believes there’s a chance that college football and other NCAA athletics return at a regional level before its restored nationwide.
“The entire country is not going to be in the same place at the same time,” Tanner told ESPN. “That was my point. In a perfect world, we’re aligned and we play, and you have a championship or you go to the CFP, the bowl game, conference championships and life is normal. But right now, we’re in a wait-and-see mode to see what happens in the next few weeks. So that was my point, that there’s a possibility that conferences might not be aligned here. If you’re clear in certain parts of the country and others aren’t, do you think they’re not going to play?”
Medical and government officials have indicated that peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely hit different cities at different points in the year. Some areas of the country could be mostly clear by the time the season is scheduled to begin, while other parts could still be seriously affected by the pandemic.
That possibility is what makes Tanner believe college football could lack national alignment in 2020.
“If you do get a chance to play, we’ll get about the same amount of practices and preparation time,” he said. “There will be some alignment from that standpoint. I’m just not sure that if it comes down to playing games, if there will be a national alignment. I could see circumstances where some conferences might get a chance to play 11 or 12 games, and others might only play 10, just because of the health and safety and well-being that we’re going through in the particular areas that we live in.”
Tanner and other athletic directors and conference commissioners have suggested that it’s still too early to make a call on the college football season.