College football is in the brainstorm phase of trying to make the most of whatever the 2020 season will or won’t bring. And there are a number of scenarios being discussed by schools and conferences around the country. One of the dumbest is the idea revealed by USC coach Clay Helton this week that he said the Pac-12 is considering.
Who came up with that winner?
Pac-12 teams typically play 12-game seasons with nine league games.
Figuring how an adjusted 11-gamer against only conference teams makes a season being pushed around by a pandemic significantly better than what was originally scheduled requires a number of aerial cartwheels and walkovers in logic.
If conference teams are concerned about the time factor, delays in starting practices and organization and preparation, how much of a difference would 11 games versus 12 make? If they can play 11, they can play 12, no?
If conference teams want to back the schedule down to nine league games, and only nine games, offloading the non-conference games, that makes a whole lot more sense, given the extra advantage, the extra time that would provide.
But slotting in two additional conference games while subtracting three outsiders seems to invite in problems the conference supposedly is attempting to avoid. Especially since those non-conference contracts bring with them legal and financial obligations/penalties that may or may not be malleable.
If travel is coming into play, it shouldn’t.
What’s the difference between Arizona flying to Washington to play the Huskies and USC flying to Arlington, Texas, to play Alabama? The distance is shorter in the case of the Trojans.
Not to mention that USC is scheduled to play host to Notre Dame in the Coliseum this coming season, making that traditional non-conference game no more troublesome for it than any league game, from a Pac-12 point of view.
And in the case of Utah, its out-of-league schedule, as planned, features games against BYU and Montana State at Rice-Eccles, opponents that are geographically convenient, and a roadie to Wyoming, a neighboring state.
The notion that keeping games within a conference is somehow safer or more comfortable is also silly, considering for college football to be played at all, athletes will have to be regularly tested, regardless of which school they play for or where that school is.
The same regulatory complications regarding schools playing other schools from other regions also exist in schools playing schools within the conference, since state decisions and directives inside the Pac-12 likely will vary, so those complexities will not be solved by keeping games in house.
All schools are desperate to get some version of football played this fall on account of the money that is generated, the money that is bound to be lost if games are not played. That much is apparent to everyone.
The threat of a predicted second wave of the pandemic hitting as the weather turns near the onset of winter could be expected to adversely affect all corners of college football with no specific league shielded, not even the self-proclaimed Conference of Champions.
If the Pac-12 or any other league wants to substantially limit games or even cut the season in half in the name of good public health, then so be it. The safety of players and coaches and referees and anyone else needed for the production of games, even in otherwise empty stadiums, should be the top priority.
Everything remains fluid at present, and various alternatives — good and bad — will bob and weave, emerge and sink in the weeks and months ahead.
But any scenario in which not just conference games should be played, but additional conference games in place of the jettisoned scheduled, contracted ones, simultaneously turns its back on logic and embraces the absurd.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.