So I was looking for this quote for this column today and it‘s from “Cast Away”, one of my favorite movies. And the Tom Hanks’ character is telling his volleyball something like, “I don‘t know why.”
It was an appropriate quote (I have a new computer and never could find it) for two reasons — 1. It‘s difficult to explain why the Big Ten-ish did what it did Thursday and 2. We have all found ourselves talking to inanimate objects during this pandemic.
The conference that likes to appear smarter than every other Power Five conference pulled down its vests to straighten them and announced it will not play non-conference games because of the crisis we are dealing with.
This could have waited and there are four other conferences who can‘t understand why that conference could not wait like everybody else to see where we are at the end of July.
This sent Group of Five and FCS schools into a panic because they could very well lose big paydays in an already crippling financial situations. But the Big Ten wants to only play teams that have the same testing and tracing protocols as its teams do.
On Monday, the SEC athletic directors will meet with commissioner Greg Sankey in Birmingham, Ala., and the media will be breathless waiting to see what color smoke comes from the chimney. Understand that this was a scheduled meeting, not a reaction to the Big Ten decision, but it‘s a sexier story the other way.
The SEC has all kinds of plans — 17 or 18 according to Sankey — and they will be discussed. But the league is expected to wait until the end of July to make a decision.
As Florida AD Scott Stricklin told me, “We are waiting to see if we can play A game before we worry about what the schedule looks like.”
That‘s the rub. We are sitting here with our fingers crossed and our masks on hoping there will be a football season. But if we are planning on a season that starts on time and never pauses, we are dreaming.
This season could start in September or October or November. It could start in 2021. It could start and then stop like a student driver just hit the emergency brake. It could be messier than a pillowcase full of hangers.
Stricklin assured me that IF football is played, Florida and FSU will do everything to play so the probability of Florida having a conference-only schedule is very slight.
In fact, if we get to the point of having a season, would it really make more sense to pay the non-cons that are scheduled the significant buy-out fee or pay for those schools to submit to the same testing protocols as your players in your conference? I mean, this isn‘t about travel. It’s about not wanting to expose your players.
All of this will be discussed Monday and all eyes will be on what happens in other sports over the next couple of weeks. How does it look in the NBA and MLB? Or for the teams in college football as we get closer to Aug. 1, which appears to be decision day. It could be a day or two earlier, but by Aug. 1, we will know something.
And then it will get really interesting. Does the SEC go to a nine-game conference schedule, plus the one non-conference game to keep all of those rivalries intact? And if the SEC plays all 12, do its teams have a leg up on Big Ten teams that play only nine games?
Do we have a season that is spread over two semesters? One thing I truly believe that will happen either in this conference or other conferences or maybe all conferences (not that the NCAA is involved in this at all), is that even when we know there is a season and when it will start, it will be very flexible.
You could see a situation where a team loses all of its offensive linemen to lockdown and is allowed to have an open week and its game rescheduled. You could see conference games moved to the first part of the season and save the non-conference games for later. You could see some bowl games or no bowl games. You could see an eight-team playoff.
All we know for sure is that you won‘t see normal.
“At some points — and I‘m not sure when — we’re going to see a return to normalcy,” said Stricklin.
The sooner the better.
There‘s a football helmet in the corner of my home office that just asked me what we’re having for dinner.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.