TEMPE, AZ — Just ten days ago, the Pac-12 Conference announced a 10-game conference football season, starting September 26. Now it's looking like that may not happen at all. Pac-12 officials and university presidents will meet Tuesday to discuss calling off the season this fall.
ASU officials said they could not comment until there is a definitive answer from the league office. The Big Ten Conference is also looking at postponing the season, while the SEC, ACC and Big 12 are reportedly trying to forge ahead.
With the season now in doubt, players and coaches have taken to social media to push for the season to be played. ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels was one of the many to tweet #WeWantToPlay.
"I've made my decision," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told reporters. "I have a football team that's made their decision. Hopefully, people will respect what we want to do and allow us to play."
Many have argued that playing, and being around the program with strict testing, would actually be safer. Alabama head coach Nick Saban was among them.
"Players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home," Saban told ESPN. "We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of July. It's a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can't get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they're in a bar or just hanging out."
ABC15 college football analyst Mark May agrees with that logic.
"You're in an environment where everybody around you is tested and everybody around you is having their temperature [checked]," said May. "Then going back home with your friends and your family, when you don't know if they've been testing, you don't know if they have a high fever, and you don't know if they've contracted COVID-19."
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh penned an open letter early Monday, advocating for a season to go on as scheduled, saying that the virus can be controlled and handled.
"We have developed a great prototype for how we can make this work and provide the opportunity for our players to play," Harbaugh said in the letter. "If you are transparent and follow the rules, this is how it can be done."
Michigan hasn't had to postpone any workouts, and they have had zero positive test results of the last 353 administered.
"I understand the safety aspect of this, and everybody does," said May. "You want to keep these players safe. Somebody's going to come down with it. It's just how you manage it. And if you look at the other sports, they're doing a good job of managing it. One of these commissioners is going to have to stand up and have a backbone and the courage to say, you know what, enough's enough. We're going to have to defeat this. We're going to have to play with this until we get a vaccine. That's the bottom line. You can move it from here to November to next January. It's still going to be there."
ASU athletic director Ray Anderson has said many times previously that no football season would have a massive impact on the rest of the athletic department. The same goes for all schools. The financial impact could be completely devastating.
"The money's not going to be there," May said. "The money not only generates enough money for the football program, but all the other sports programs. And guess what? Some of their students on scholarship, it supports because it brings in so much money. It's going to be devastating to recruiting for high school kids right now. How do you recruit high school kids? Look at what the coaches are doing, how you're going to pay your coaches? Now, are you going to say, you know what, you're going to have to streamline your pay? We're going to have to reduce it for now because we don't have a season. So how do you approach all of that? There's so much at stake at this time, they've got to take it one step at a time, and they've got to do it right."