Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick made some news lately when he mentioned something about playing football in the spring and, of course, many of the knee-jerk media pounced.
No, we’re not going to have football in the spring. At least not anything that amounts to more than keeping score in some spring games.
“It’s actually a secondary thought for him,” IrishIllustrated.com’s Tim O’Malley told Derek Ruscin and Zach Arns (Ruscin & Zach) Wednesday afternoon on ESPN Arkansas. “People might have taken it a little out of context. What he wants to do is push it back four weeks.”
Well, that does sorta mess up a lot of travel plans for Arkansas fans (and media) who have been anxiously looking forward to going to South Bend.
O’Malley said Swarbrick is looking at a start somewhere Sept. 26-Oct. 4.
“He really doesn’t believe they are going to play more than 10 games,” he said. “[Notre Dame] has six games they will definitely play, plus Navy and they haven’t touched Arkansas yet.”
The Irish also have a game with Western Michigan, but they would juggle the game with the Hogs before worrying about that game. They’ve had three games cancelled by the Big 10 and Pac 12 decisions.
“He is really focused on that moreso than going to the spring,” O’Malley said. “He said as recently as a week ago he hadn’t personally thought about the spring much but knows it’s a viable option.”
The reason for the concern is professional leagues starting back plus more students coming back to campus and spreading the virus.
“He just wants more information,” O’Malley said.
The schedules will be juggled, make no mistake about that.
For some of us old-timers, we remember when college football seasons were 10 games long and didn’t start until the third Saturday in September. High school started after Labor Day. Football players reported a couple of weeks before that.
Shoot, some teams in the Big 10 were still playing nine games a season before the 11th game came into play in 1970. Arkansas’ first extra game was Stanford and Jim Plunkett at War Memorial.
This year there will be schedules that may not be decided until a few weeks before games are played. Let’s face it, fans attending isn’t a big concern right now.
It’s about the television networks, especially ESPN.
Which is one of the reasons we won’t see spring football games passing as regular season affairs. They don’t have enough channels to air everything they would have to air, most of the marquee players wouldn’t play and it would be more chaos than now.
Player safety is the major reason teams can’t play spring seasons. The recovery period for injuries is too long and you have the 2021 season coming in a hurry.
“How many guys are going to be hurt at the end of May that are asked to then go play training came in August?” O’Malley said about the biggest problem facing college teams moving the season to the spring.
“Look, the offensive line is supposed to be Notre Dame’s strongest position,” he said. “This past spring they would have rolled just two linemen out there if they played college football in the spring.”
No coach is going to risk getting his best players injured.
There’s no idea what the magic number of games to be played before college coaches look at redshirting a whole bunch of their better players that will be playing in 2021.
Forget about the marquee players. Unless they need more game tape to improve a draft position they might not even want to risk a drastically-reduced season.
How it all plays out is anybody’s guess at this point.