Fans concerned about football season following conference decisions based on coronavirus pandemic

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Auburn quarterback Bo Nix.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — There’s growing concern among college football fans about the 2020 season following decisions by conferences around the country to alter their schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Big Ten announced Thursday it would play only conference games this fall. The ACC and Pac-12 reportedly are considering similar decisions. The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which includes Miles College, is suspending all fall sports, though Miles’ released a statement saying its leaders want to allow student-athletes to play sports, if possible.

But all the dominoes began falling with the Ivy League, which announced Wednesday it would play no fall sports. Now, some football fans in Alabama are worried that the Southeastern Conference ultimately might not play either. It was a popular topic on sports radio Thursday.

“The Ivy League, people thought, was the first domino that could fall that could impact Alabama and Auburn and UAB football,” WJOX Radio host Jim Dunaway said. “So yeah, it’s a big talking point. But I’ll tell you, the realistic side of this whole thing is the Ivy League is very different from the Southeastern Conference or even Conference USA. There’s not a lot of money to be made with football in the Ivy League.”

That doesn’t mean the Ivy League’s decision won’t affect the SEC at all. Dunaway said it could create a perception issue as the SEC goes through the decision-making process.

“I think the biggest impact from the Ivy League will be all on public image of it all,” he said. “The Ivy League is getting a lot of national press, almost like they did the right thing by the student athlete of doing this. And so that is the biggest challenge, I think, that is facing the Southeastern Conference and all the power leagues out there is: how do you make it look like you’re not just playing for money.”

The recent conference decisions also reignite a question many fans have had about the possibility of a football season in the spring. Dunaway said it can work, but there would be challenges for the athletes, including the number of games played in 2021.

“So basically 20-24 games in one calendar year. That’s never been done before,
at least in modern football,” he said. “And I think in this day and age of health and concerns about athletes in general in football, that would be asking, medically, a lot.”


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