The college football season now appears to be on the brink of collapsing due to COVID-19 related liability concerns among university presidents and chancellors. Rumors ran rampant on Monday that the Big 10 will cancel its fall season as soon as today, with the hope of playing football in the spring, a prospect that seems unlikely at best. Big 10 officials denied the rumor, but there is an awful lot of smoke around it for it not to be at least partially true.
Minor conferences like the MAC have dropped like dominoes in recent weeks, cancelling their seasons in the wake of announcements by the major conferences that they would play in-conference games only. The reality is that these 2nd-tier schools can only make money if they schedule non-conference games with the big schools, in which they get paid huge sums of money to get their butts kicked before a packed house of fans on regional or national TV.
With the Big 10 season teetering on the brink, officials at the Big 12 and SEC were rumored to be scrambling around trying to find some means of preserving a fall football season. One rumor involves several Big 10 schools like Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan forming a joint super conference with the Big 12 for one season. Another involves the Big 12 merging with the SEC and possibly the ACC for one year.
Regardless of how it all comes out, it seems inevitable that the structure of college football will end up being changed forever as the game moves forward into the future. After half a century of obsessing about Texas Longhorn football every year, the odd thing is that I find myself not much caring about whether the games are played this fall or not.
I picked up a copy of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football (DCTF) magazine – the annual bible of Texas-based football at the high school, college and pro levels – the other day, and have not even cracked it open since I brought it home and set it on the table next to my seat on the sofa. Of course, DCTF has been kind of worthless for 25 years now, since the advent of the Internet, but I’ve always been able to make myself at least read the Longhorn section and check out where they think the Beeville Trojans will finish in their district in years past.
Not this year.
Maybe it’s the fact that I realized weeks ago that it is doubtful we will even have a season to fret about despite all the bold statements coming out of the SEC and Big 12. Maybe it’s the loss of the Texas game with LSU, which was the one game I was really excited about watching and attending this season.
But what I really think it is, is this: The illusion that the current occupants of UT’s football roster give a damn about Texas, UT and its traditions has been exploded by the recent demands made by the group of African American players parroting talking points handed to them by radical professors.
The enduring charm of college football has always been about its traditions: The Band, the Fight Song, The Eyes, the Texas! Fight! chant from 100,000 screaming fans, Bevo, the Hook ’em!!! sign, and on and on and on. These are the things that have always distinguished the college game from the NFL. These are the things that produced the level of excitement in the stands at a college game that simply do not exist in an NFL stadium. These are the things that have given college football fans that spirit of camaraderie, that sense that we were all in this together that NFL fans never truly experience.
All of that has been exploded now: The myth had already been steadily eroded in recent decades, but now it has been completely destroyed.
It’s pretty hard to see right now how UT and other universities ever get it back.
In every season past football season, I always carefully planned my weekends around ensuring that my other activities did not encroach on Longhorn football time. This fall, assuming there are any Longhorn games played, I will probably tune in to watch them, but only to the extent they don’t interfere with my other plans.
That’s what college football has lost, at least from my perspective. So, whether they play this fall or not, the real issue that the athletic directors and boards of regents at these universities where football has been a huge cash cow really face going into the future is how to recapture the magic that has been lost.
Good luck with that. I have other things to worry about.
That is all.
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