By Juan Lozano | July 2, 2020
College football will look different in 2020 than it has in previous years.
Games, if they are played, will likely be played with no to a limited number of fans in the stands. This is significant, but we don’t think this will be the only deviation from normal operating procedures.
We could be wrong, but here are some other things that we will likely not see in college football for some time:
- LARGER MEETINGS/ REGULAR PRACTICES – We anticipate that teams will meet and practice in a different way. Teams may have to practice and meet in shifts as opposed to an entire position group. There might be fewer team meetings for fear of violating social distancing requirements and losing players due to coronavirus exposure. For example, we can foresee a situation where there is multiple practice on one day where more than one quarterbacks get “starter” reps. The same is true of position meetings where position coaches are meeting with smaller numbers of their position group. We would expect that the NCAA governance regarding the”20-hour rule” would reflect current realities.
- OPEN PRACTICES– We think it will be highly unlikely that practices will be open to the public or even the media. It is generally up to a head coach to determine whether he wants open practices or not. At a number of schools, the public was permitted to observe practice. This was always a good opportunity to learn more about a team and how they prepare. We think the days of open practices are over. This may also impact the quality of media coverage of a team.
- COMMUNITY SERVICE– Teams like to use community service opportunities to increase visibility and generate interest in a program. We cannot see team members being permitted to perform community service as many of the events require in-person participation with large groups of people.
- SIDELINE PASSES– The sideline pass is a golden ticket. If you’re not actually participating in the game, it’s the best seat in the house. The game is faster from the sideline. Once you watch a game from the sideline, you may never want to sit in the stands again. Donors and dignitaries are often the recipients of sideline passes. It’s likely that most teams will not distribute a field pass to individuals that are just spectators.
- NON- ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL TRAVELLING WITH TEAM– Normally donors and university administration travel on the team plane. It’s much more convenient than flying commercial with the general public as an individual can fly home immediately after the game rather than spend the night away from home. We don’t see seats being made available to people that are generally not around the team during the week. Donors and athletic administration might have to fly commercial to attend a contest, that is if they are permitted to attend at all. We also think that some staff members and even coaches and players may have to travel commercial to contests.
- HOTEL VISITS/ POST-GAME– After a game, there is generally an area reserved adjacent to a stadium where players can meet with their friends and family. It’s a rather large gathering where there is absolutely no social distancing with people from outside the program. This is probably a moot point if no fans are allowed in the stands. We also expect that players won’t be allowed to mingle with family/friends at the team hotel.
- TEAM MEALS– Banquet tables at the team hotel are usually designed to sit up to about eight people. Socially distancing requirements probably make it difficult, if not nearly impossible to feed a team at the same time. Teams are likely going to have to be fed in shifts and this will alter Friday night meetings and the team itinerary. It will also impact how the team might be fed on gameday.
- IN-SEASON RECRUIT VISITS OR COACH VISITS– Oftentimes official visits take place during a regular season. Recruits and area players generally can attend a game for free. We don’t see that occurring in 2020, even if some fans are allowed into a contest. If there is an attendance cap, athletic departments will want those that can come into the stadium to be paying customers.
College coaches frequently don’t travel with the team and instead go out to watch prospects on a Friday evening.
Similarly, we don’t know if college coaches will be allowed to travel to a neighboring state to watch a recruit play and come back and coach the next day without satisfying quarantine mandates. Also there might be less flights.
- FOOTBALL CAMPS– Football camps can be a significant source of income for some schools and coaches. The revenue generated is dependent on volume. The more players you have participating, the greater the revenue. This obviously is not something that comports with social distancing norms. Consider football camps done for the time being.
- NFL SCOUT VISITS– Currently NFL team area scouts travel from one school to the next to evaluate and gather information about talented players. Scouts are constantly in their car, on flights, in hotels, in restaurants and football facilities to gather information about prospects. NFL scouts usually visit a football office and inquire of the staff about certain players and they get to watch tape and practice. We expect this to change this year. We don’t see teams letting NFL scouts to come in and perform these tasks. (Scouts often times bring donuts to the facility, so coaches are going to have to start bringing their own breakfast).
College Football is changing. What was common even last year, might go away for a few years or be extinct all together. This game that was once somewhat stagnant now is in flux. Those things that we took for granted may not exist in 2020 or years to come. It’s no longer business as usual in college football.
Opinions expressed are solely of the author and do not express the views or opinions of Headcoachranking.com.