Schwartz: Ten Sentences – Hawktober Sky Edition

September 27, 2020

Written by David Schwartz

Hawkeye Nation

Social crises create openings to make crucial changes. College football is no different. Here’s how we make the game better:

1. The Big Ten is back. The Pac-12, Mountain West, and MAC are back. The SEC, ACC, and Big 12 never left, although some of their schools have suffered COVID-related setbacks. There’s going to be a college football-ish season after all, and now that we know we’ll be able to watch nearly all of the teams we’ve come to care about, let’s make a modest proposal.

2. Let’s always start college football season in October. Because, honestly, late August/early September—even before COVID—always felt too early.

3. It never feels like football season when football season usually begins. It’s too hot. Some schools haven’t even started yet. We’re either enjoying the end of summer or suffering our end-of-summer hangovers. It’s not that we’re not excited to see the Hawkeyes—it’s more like we’re not in the right frame of mind yet to fully appreciate them.

4. Own October: that’s what college football needs to do. Make it known that college football begins—and will always begin—the first weekend in October. The leaves will be changing or falling, there will be a crispness in the air, and the start of NFL season, which steps on college football by starting about 10 days after college, will have already begun and can’t hog the stage.

5. It works for the calendar. An 11-game schedule allows for championship games to take place mid-December followed immediately by the beginning of bowl season (aka a couple of dozen exhibition games plus the only three games that matter: the playoffs).

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6. And what of the lost 12th game? There’s no historical precedent for that. It’s a product of this millennium. Cut one of the nonconference games that costs power-conference teams hundreds of thousands of dollars—sometimes more—just to schedule. The television contracts have become so valuable that losing one nonconference game against an unworthy opponent won’t matter. At all.

7. And if you’re still not convinced, remember that September is not one of television’s big ratings periods they use to set future advertising rates. That begins late October and runs into November (and also one period in the spring that we don’t care about for this conversation). College football’s “money months” remain intact.

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8. Not a lot of good has come from this pandemic (I mean, it’s a PANDEMIC), but some industries have been forced to innovate in ways they probably should have years ago: restaurant carryout-and-delivery methods; telemedicine; retail in-store pickup options; and in-home fitness opportunities, to name just a few.

9. Sports don’t need to be exempt. Through the inertia of tradition we’ve fallen into bad habits that should have been remedied years ago: the NBA can finally consider moving the start of its season to December, like it’s wanted to for years; colleges can finally eliminate a few non-revenue sports programs that were a financial drain while providing zero to little institutional value in return; and Major League Baseball might actually make large groups of people under 55 care about their sport again when they play fewer games, which makes the games they do play more relevant to the season’s outcome.

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10. This is college football’s chance to make a minor tweak that pays big dividends. The world doesn’t need late-August football games that leave us with third-degree sunburns while player after player drops lifelessly to the turf with leg cramps caused by dehydration. Fall equals football. The money is there. The window of opportunity is there. Make the change.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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