- Newly released odds heavily favor (-500) any FBS game being cancelled or postponed this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- For the season as a whole, odds are split (-120) on whether or not it will be moved to Spring 2021
- Read below for a deeper look at how COVID-19 could alter the upcoming college football season
As autumn draws near, the possibility of it being a season without football is only increasing. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going away in the United States, and that puts the college game directly in the crosshairs. The Ivy League has already cancelled its Fall sports, and much like with the wave of conference basketball tournament cancellations back in March, their decision could prove to be the tipping point for the rest of the nation.
As of April, the odds (+250) were already in favor of a late start for college football. They now heavily favor at least one FBS game being cancelled or postponed, and they’re split on whether or not the season as a whole gets moved to the Spring of 2021.
Odds FBS College Football Game Cancelled or Postponed
All odds taken Jul. 9
This is a prop that is already close to seeing a result. Navy was supposed to play host to Lafayette College on September 12th, but the Midshipmen were informed earlier this week that Lafayette will not be making the trip. Per Navy’s official website, a replacement is currently being sought. That’s not an easy task, however.
College Football schedules are hammered out years in advance, and finding a team to fill that slot isn’t simply a matter of plugging a gap.
Lafayette isn’t the only Patriot League team to pull out of an FBS matchup, as Colgate will no longer be playing Western Michigan on September 4th. If the rest of the conference follows suit, Army-Bucknell (Week 1), Hawaii-Fordham (Week 2) and Syracuse-Colgate (Week 3) all face the threat of cancellation as well.
Odds FBS Football Season Postponed Until Spring 2021
The potential postponement of the FBS season is an idea that has gained steam in recent weeks. As the realization that COVID-19 is sticking around much longer than expected is setting in, the discussions around a potential spring season have increased.
One notable voice has been Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley. He has acknowledged that while Fall football is ideal, moving to the Spring in “very doable”.
UTEP AD Jim Senter expressed a similar sentiment, stating that while “it would be a challenge”, it’s still “on the table”. That runs a bit contrary to the words of Penn State AD Sandy Barbour, who says the idea of Spring football is a “last resort”.
Meanwhile, South Carolina AD Ray Tanner says that “We’re still not at a point that we can make a decision”.
Needless to say, the powers that be in the sport of college football are still just as disorganized as they’ve ever been. If there was ever a time to make a case for installing a commissioner in college football, it’s now.
Weather Issues in Spring?
One of the concerns regarding a Spring football season has been the potential for bad weather in the northern part of the country, something that could affect the Big Ten, as well as the northernmost Pac-12 programs like the Oregon and Washington schools.
However, there may not be much difference between the way the North starts a Spring season, and the way the South starts a regular football season. They’re on different ends of the pendulum, but each must start the year with adverse weather conditions.
Per the NOAA National Climactic Data Center, the average Spring temperature in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and New York is in the range of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit. Sure, that ensures there will be some cold days at the ballpark, but does it hinder football any more than the sweltering 90-95-plus degree days we see in places like Florida and Louisiana early in the typical football season?
As the NFL has shown in places like Green Bay, football fans will still go to games in the cold, and players will still play in the cold. If they can play into December and January, it stands to reason that college football could handle Spring weather in the north.
Will Pro Prospects Sit Out?
The NFL has made it clear that they won’t move their draft, even if the college season is delayed until Spring. For many players, this raises a tough question. Do they play their final college football season, or focus on the NFL Draft process leading into April?
Additionally, and maybe more importantly, are they prepared to play two football seasons in one calendar year?
Football is a physical sport, and the season lasts under 20 games at both levels for that exact reason. For anyone who’s already put together an NFL-worthy resume, there isn’t much reason to take the risk.
College NFL prospects when coach say we will play spring football pic.twitter.com/jiGm95G1Gf
— Jada's Ashley Madison's account manager (@BrianWilliams80) July 8, 2020
For example, Trevor Lawrence is set to be the top overall pick in next year’s draft. If he plays in Spring, he risks an injury that could cost him millions of dollars should he slide in the draft. Even if he does get through a Spring season without major injury, there’s still a full year’s worth of wear-and-tear that he’ll take into the NFL with a severely shortened offseason. The injury risk in his NFL rookie season will also be heightened.
For many players, they’ll have to weigh the romantic idea of finishing college football with their teammates, against the real risk of seeing their NFL future damaged. Like in bowl season, we could see many elite prospects choose latter.