If this past weekend was a college football game, it would’ve been one of those back-and-forth classics that began with roars and ended with gasps.
Every college football fan knows what that’s like because all of our teams have been in those instant classics. You know what I’m talking about. It's those games that are wildly exciting to general college football fans but nerve-racking for those who are emotionally invested in them. Because their team is on the ropes.
The second those contests conclude and the final tally goes against your team, well, those are the ones we like to instantly forget. For LSU fans, think LSU vs. Texas A&M in 2018. After those seven overtimes, other fans were calling it the game of the year. LSU fans weren't calling it anything. They just quietly opened their bourbon cabinet to numb the pain.
That was this past weekend in a nutshell.
First, let’s examine those thrilling highs:
— ULM and Louisiana Tech actually scheduled to play one another in Independence Stadium Nov. 21. Groundbreaking news even outside of this state. The game we thought wouldn’t happen was actually becoming a reality, which instantly made for a win in all of Northeast Louisiana, albeit a pandemic had to happen to bring us this glorious gift.
— And speaking of those schools, ULM and Louisiana Tech began practice Friday.
— LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase announced he was “locked in” on this season. That became newsworthy because, well, we will get to the negative news in a minute. Chase is one of the few superstars in college football who openly stated he was going to play.
— The SEC released its additional two opponents for each conference team. LSU lucked up with Mizzou and Vandy. Good looking out, SEC.
— The ACC and Big Ten released its full schedules with byes. That alone was enough to get everyone excited about the upcoming year.
— The Big Ten poured a little gas on the fire with a conference call. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State head coach Ryan Day got into it during one of those calls. Harbaugh interrupted Day and accused the Buckeyes of breaking rules regarding on-field instruction. Day reportedly fired back by saying, “How about I worry about my team and you worry about yours?”
— Oh and the coaches poll was officially released. LSU was No. 5, and the SEC had six teams in the Top 15. That makes for a compelling conference schedule down south, don't you think?
Three words described those bright headlines: College Football Fever.
But then came the negative stories...
— The SEC and Big Ten were planning on testing three times a week. The SEC acknowledged it would cost $100 per tests, so if 150 players and staff members get tested three times a week and if you multiply that by 14 SEC squads, that would equate to $630,000 a week spent on testing. If you multiply that by 10 weeks (not even counting byes),that would be a bare minimum of $6.3M spent on testing alone. That's not an official number by any means, but now you can understand why so many conferences eliminated non-conference games. Still, that’s not the worst thing ever. At least they were going to still play...
— A growing count of Power 5 conference players opted out. Of note, Penn State All-American linebacker Micah Parsons, Miami’s potential Top 10 pick Gregory Rousseau, Purdue All-American Rondale Moore, Minnesota’s Biletnikoff hopeful Rashod Bateman and Virginia Tech’s potential first-round pick Caleb Farley all opted out of the season.
— Clemson star Xavier Thomas would miss most of the 2020 season after a battle with COVID-19.
— LSU defensive lineman Neil Farrell opted out of the college football season after COVID-19 hit his family hard.
—But here was the absolute bombshell that shook us all to our core: ESPN came out with a big story Sunday about Power 5 conferences holding an emergency meeting that very same day about this fall. Several sources told ESPN that Big Ten presidents are ready to pull the plug and they were gauging other conferences to see if they would follow suit.
That put local college football fans through the highest of highs (breaking down schedules and talking local matchups we thought we would never see again) to the lowest of lows (real talk about college football being canceled before this week is over.)
The initial biggest takeaway here was the local angle. ULM and Louisiana Tech playing in Shreveport is a dream. The two teams haven’t played in two decades, and no matter what anyone says, there’s a local interest in seeing these two teams square off again. The fantasy became reality.
But it seems to all be for naught now.
I fear by the end of this week we will already know college football’s fate, and it won’t be kinds news. The sad part is we knew this day was likely. We knew it was a long shot for college football to actually have a season this fall. That doesn’t make it any less painful.
You can mentally prepare yourself all day long for this to happen, but the truth of the matter is — that announcement will send many fans to the point of near depression. The country needed something to root for now more than ever.
Sadly, it doesn’t look like college football will get to be unify any of us. What else could you expect from a 2020 football season?