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Paul Zeise: The powers of college football are wasting time with half-baked ideas
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Paul Zeise: The powers of college football are wasting time with half-baked ideas

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The major conferences obviously are trying everything in their power to make sure there is a college football season.

They have rolled all kinds of ideas out about how it can happen. We have heard spring football is an option. We have heard reduced seasons are an option. We have heard of games with no fans or games with as low as 15% of the capacity.

The latest is a model that would include maybe only six or seven games, all regional and within a bus ride. Pete Thamel of Yahoo sports wrote Monday that all of it is just delaying the inevitable because conference commissioners and athletic directors are all beginning to accept the reality that there won't be college football in the fall.

Enough. Those who run college football want so badly for us to believe there is some magical way they can change reality and play. It is like they think it is possible to be almost pregnant. Either you are or you aren't, and the same concept applies to college football.

It is either safe - with some risk - to play college football or it isn't. And if it is, then let's stop with all these nonsensical plans and play football. If it isn't, stop wasting our time and just scrap it all together. This isn't hard.

I laughed last week when a possible solution was to only play conference games. That one originated from the Big Ten and was soon being considered by every conference. It was as dumb and disingenuous then as it is now.

That decision was made because it will save millions in guarantees paid out to nonconference opponents. People understand there won't be fans in the stands for these games, and that is a huge chunk of revenue out the door. When there are 110,000 fans in the stadium, it is financially beneficial to Penn State to pay $1.5 million to the little sisters of the poor in order to get an extra home game. With no fans, it isn't.

But let's go with the idea that it gives them flexibility in scheduling. OK, now please explain what is going to be different on Sept. 26. What does three extra weeks buy these conferences that they can't start on Sept. 1? There won't be a vaccine by then so there is nothing to gain other than optics.

I would say the same thing about spring football. This is seen as some sort of firewall against having to cancel football for the entire 2020-21 school year. It is every bit as misguided as the conference-games-only plan. What will change between now and the spring?

That's why it keeps coming back to this question of whether it can be done safely or not. Pushing dates back does nothing but keep the illusion alive that there is some magical cure right around the corner.

There isn't. We need to learn how to live in a world with coronavirus because it isn't going anywhere any time soon and we can't shut down the country every time there is a spike in cases. So we need to determine if it is possible to pull off college football or not and run with it.

I don't know the answer to this question and wouldn't pretend to. I'm not an expert paid to consider such things and make these decisions. I tend to believe the resources it will take to pull off college football safely this year are probably not within our reach, but I'm not an expert.

One idea that actually might make sense is to limit students on campus to athletes and people who have specialized labs and some international students who can't go home. That would severely limit the number of people on campus and, in effect, provide a bubble-like controlled environment for the student-athletes - though nobody would be allowed to leave campus except to go to away games until their season is over.

I'm not sure of the logistics of it all, but I'm not paid to figure that stuff out. I'm paid to offer an opinion on the world of sports, and on that front, I think the powers that be in college football need to make this as simple as possible and stop with these half-baked ideas to save the season.

If it is safe to play, then go play. If it isn't, then shut it down because you are wasting time and insulting our intelligence with these measures that will do nothing except delay the inevitable a few more weeks.

Visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at www.post-gazette.com

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