ESPN's Herbstreit would be 'surprised' with college football season cancellation
|Thursday, July 23, 2020, 8:01 AM- -|
Kirk Herbstreit, a college football analyst for ABC/ESPN, said in early March that he would be shocked to see college football played this fall. However, he feels more optimistic overall as the deadline for making decisions approaches.
Two Power 5 conferences – the Big 10 and the Pac 12 – have announced they will have conference-only schedules this season as the nation grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The ACC, the SEC, and the Big 12 are all waiting until later this month or even early in August to make a decision, but the signs are pointing towards similar decisions.
“In about two weeks is when I think they'll have to get to a deadline,” Herbstreit said recently. “By the end of July or early August, as much as they're trying to push this thing down the road, they have to make the decision. If they say 'hey guys, it's too dangerous and there are too many risks. We can't play college football this fall,' I don't think -- I would be surprised if they canceled (the season). I think they would keep postponing, keep pushing and hoping that at some point, the data starts to come down. Because as you know, the data, it just about seems almost every day, is higher and higher."
The Ivy League announced earlier in July that it would not entertain the idea of any athletic competition until 2021, and the Colonial Athletic Association said last week that it will not play a conference schedule but will allow its member to try and schedule independent games.
Several programs have announced they won’t play this fall, and Herbstreit said college football has to juggle the optics of player safety versus the desire to play.
"I think one of the biggest issues they could have going forward and trying to play -- if the numbers keep going (that way) -- is the overall optics,” Herbstreit said. “It's just not a good look necessarily when every time you turn on TV you see the record-setting numbers and you go 'oh, let's go play college football.' The optics aren't good.
"I think they're holding on as long as they can, hoping that those numbers start to decline and go back to where we were 5-7 weeks ago. But I think a lot of us were optimistic at that point. A lot of us were optimistic, and then all of a sudden in the past four weeks, it's just gone in a different direction."
The remarks follow his comments from two weeks ago.
"I'm very optimistic that we are going to see some effort to have a season,” Herbstreit said then. “It's really changed. If you would have asked me that three weeks ago, I would have said man I feel I great. This thing is going in a great direction. But as you watch the news and follow this thing, you see spikes all over the place. I don't know if protests contributed to this or people not necessarily fearing the virus, but I think a laissez-faire attitude has really affected things. We don't have a Roger Goodell in college football. You have the NCAA, which is not really even a governing body over college football, so you have rely on the Power Five commissioners.
"I'm near Clemson right now at a lake, and whatever the rules are in this area are different than what they are for citizens in Columbus, Tallahassee, Eugene, Austin. It's just very different than just a czar commissioner saying July 31, here's what we are doing— you can't do that. And because of that, it creates a lot of doubt. Maybe some teams don't field teams this year. I'm still trying to stay optimistic, but there are red flags."