Analysis Necessary Roughness

Necessary Roughness: What effect would canceling college football have on the NFL?

With the upcoming college football season in jeopardy, the NFL will likely encounter some changes to their season as well.

On Tuesday, two of the Power Five college football conferences decided to postpone their fall sports season. The Big Ten and Pac-12 decided too much is still at risk with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Two other FBS conferences outside the Power Five also made the same announcement.

The Big 12 conference voted to continue their fall schedule as planned and the final two conferences of the Power Five, the ACC and SEC, have not announced any change so far.

With the landscape of college football already facing some serious changes and possibly facing more, what will that look like for the NFL season?

One change that has been brought up is the idea of increasing the number of days in which the NFL plays its games. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the NFL likely will move games from Sundays to Saturday, if college football doesn’t proceed this season.

That would give fans the opportunity to watch the NFL on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. That’s most of the week. CBSSports.com editor, R.J. White, tossed out an idea to help teams who play on Thursday nights.

That idea could potentially be a favorite among players and coaches, since the Sunday to Thursday turn around has been a complaint in the past. So, as far as viewership goes, the impact would be a positive one for the NFL, but what about the NFL draft?

Some of these conferences want to try to play games in the spring. If they do decide to play in the spring, how would they be evaluated for the draft if the season is still ongoing? The NFL could possibly move the draft to a later date, but there have been reports that they would not be willing to do that. They didn’t move the draft or free agency when the pandemic started, so why would they start now?

Would NFL draft prospects even play in the spring, knowing that an injury that close to the fall could be detrimental to their draft stock? Probably not. College Gameday host, Rece Davis came out and addressed the risks of playing in the spring immediately followed by playing in the fall.

Let’s say that a college player plays in the spring, avoids serious injury, and is drafted to an NFL team. By the time that player is completely done with the spring season, he wouldn’t be able to join his NFL team until June or July. That doesn’t give them much time to get acclimated to a new system at a higher level of play. So, for player development, the impact would be a negative one.

What about the college players in general? Obviously, this has a negative impact. College football players work their entire lives to get to this level. They have to juggle being a student and an athlete. Some of them do that and work at a job to pay for their school. Several players were probably looking to this year as their last shot to make a name for themselves.

What if teams decide not to play in the spring? They won’t get that last chance. Former LSU quarterback and this year’s first overall draft pick, Joe Burrow, took to Twitter to sympathize with college athletes.

I feel for the college athletes as well. I feel for every athlete right now. People may think, “So what, it’s just sports”; but for most athletes, sports is their entire life. Moving on from that would be very difficult. Today, allowing athletes to compete would provide a sense of normalcy. Normalcy is something we could all use right now.

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