By Isa Khalid
New York City, New York
After many weeks of speculation, two Power Five conferences opting out, and doubts from all over the country, the NCAA has somehow managed to kick off the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) season. So far, the NCAA has been fairly successful in limiting health risks, creating safe environments for players and coaches, and even allowing fans to come back to certain football arenas. This unprecedented season has faced many setbacks, but almost a month into the season, the college football world is as safe and successful as anything could be in the year 2020.
The primary setback the NCAA faced was when two of the Power Five conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12, decided to cancel their football seasons on August 11. The Power Five conferences are five of the ten FBS conferences, containing most of the top 25 college football schools in the country. The decision to cancel caused an uproar from politicians, coaches, and the athletes themselves.
Star Ohio State Quarterback Justin Fields launched a social media campaign with the slogan #WeWantToPlay. According to Max Cohen of Politico, Republican Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said, “Canceling the season would mean closing down socially-distanced, structured programs for these athletes.” Even President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence voiced their opinions on the matter, expressing their hopes for the season to take place. However, the Big Ten and Pac-12 did not listen to these cries for football, and both conferences decided to cancel their respective seasons.
It seemed inevitable that the other Power Five conferences would follow suit. At this moment of uncertainty, the college football world turned their heads to the Big 12, another Power Five conference. Their decision to play ended up being vital to the return of NCAA football. They made their decision hours after the Big Ten and Pac-12 canceled. This decision ended up as the critical decision for the College Football season to take place.
Following the Big 12 were the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Southeastern Conference (SEC). With health and safety protocols, safe travel plans, and the availability of frequent testing, the NCAA was ready for the college football season to begin. After patiently waiting about three weeks for the start of the season, it finally arrived on September 3, when Central Arkansas visited UAB for an 8:00 p.m. primetime game.
In the first two weeks of college football, fans enjoyed college football without significant interference from COVID-19. After viewing these incredible results, on September 16, the Big Ten decided to start their season after all, surprising the college football world. They will begin their season on October 24, 7 weeks late. Yet, they are still allowed to compete for the College Football Playoff.
A week after the Big Ten’s decision, the Pac-12 followed up, announcing their season’s restart. They, too, will be eligible for the College Football Playoff. Now, all of the Power Five conferences are back primarily due to the phenomenal job the NCAA has done providing guidelines for teams and schools’ ability to access rapid testing for all of their athletes.