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How worried should we be about the 2020 college football season?

As extended shelter in place orders start to be implemented around the country, some FBS athletic directors are starting to worry about the upcoming 2020 football season

Pac-12 Championship Game - Oregon v Utah Alika Jenner/Getty Images

It’s been 19 days since the last live sporting event. While some people were hoping to see sports back in action within a month or two, it certainly appears like that’s not going to happen.

Earlier this week, The NHL extended their self quarantine order until April 15, the Pac-12 extended their activities ban until at least May 31 and governments across the country are implementing shelter-in-place orders, with some running into the middle of June.

Needless to say, we still have a long way to go before we can even start to think about normalcy. That’s a big reason why athletic departments and conference officials across the country are starting to make contingency plans about their biggest money maker.

“The optimistic model has an elongated training camp and on-time start (to the season),’’ Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told Jon Wilner. “The most pessimistic has no season at all.”

To make matters worse for decision makers like Scott and university athletic directors, the decision will be mostly out of their control.

“A lot has to do with what the universities decide for their students on campus and what the public health officials believe,’’ Scott told Wilner. Scott also added that they will wait until the end of May to start making decision about practices and regular season schedules.

Of course, the biggest worry in all of this is simple: Money.

These conferences and athletic departments rely on the money football brings in, both in the form of ticket sales and TV money. Media contracts alone in the Pac-12 account for more than $20 million per year for each university.

Nobody knows what a shortened or cancelled football season would mean for those TV contracts, but it wouldn’t be good news. Brett McMurphy of Stadium surveyed FBS athletic directors and collected their anonymous opinions about what a cancelled season would mean for their schools.

“There better be (a season) or many programs will be out of business,” an athletic director said.

“Quite simply,” added another AD, “it would be devastating.”

Another AD was more direct: “If there’s no season, we will be f*****.”

Despite all of the worries, most AD’s are confident the season will happen, at least for now. In the survey, all 112 athletic directors that responded rated their confidence level that the season would occur in some form or another at a five or better (out of ten). However, more than 50 percent of those AD’s at power 5 programs placed their confidence level at a 7 or lower.

As we all know, information is coming in quickly and things change every day. But one thing is clear: There is a very real possibility that the 2020 football season will look very different than normal — if it happens at all.

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