Aug 11, 2020 - Sports

Factions form with college football season in the balance

An illustration of a football made out of pennies.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With college football on the brink, Monday saw an outpouring of support for playing a fall season from numerous parties, including President Trump, Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.

Yes, but: Monday also saw the Mountain West Conference become the second FBS league to postpone fall sports, and the Big Ten and Pac-12 are expected to make the same decision as early as this morning.

  • What to watch: A rare heart condition that could be linked with COVID-19 is fueling concern among Power 5 administrators. Myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, has been found in several college athletes, ESPN reports.

The state of play: "Adhering to its fractured nature, the NCAA's five richest conferences formed factions over the idea of playing a season this fall," SI's Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde write.

  • The Pac-12 and Big Ten are both meeting today, and the expectation is that they will postpone their seasons.
  • The SEC and ACC would like to play.
  • The Big 12 is "really split," per SI.

Between the lines: In addition to conferences being on different pages, battles are also raging between coaches and administrators, and athletic departments and universities. All the while, players are demanding their voices be heard.

  • For any conference to hold a fall football season, it would have to reckon with the demands of players. And if it did, the sport would never be the same.
  • In fact, multiple people I spoke with believe the push to postpone football is not entirely due to COVID-19, and that conferences are hoping to slow momentum around players organizing, while buying themselves time to respond to mounting attacks on amateurism rules.

The bottom line: Today could be one of the most consequential days in college sports history, and the decisions made by the Big Ten, Pac-12 and others will affect every campus — and every sport. Remember, football funds everything.

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