Without football on the calendar this fall, one Big Ten football coach has prepared a detailed plan to play spring football.
Thursday morning Purdue head football coach Jeff Brohm shared a seven-page proposal outlining what a spring football schedule could look like in the Big Ten conference. The calendar calls for an 8-game spring season beginning at the end of February, followed by a 10-game season in the fall of 2021 with a delayed started in October.
You can scroll to the bottom of the page to read the entire plan obtained by KSR, but first, a few things must be addressed.
Spring Football, Really?
“We don’t want to make a one-year problem a two-year problem,” has been the go-to line for college administrators like SEC commissioner Greg Sankey throughout the decision-making process. A 2021 spring football season must alter the fall, as Brohm did account for in his proposal. Even so, it’s difficult to see a scenario where a consensus is reached among the powers that be.
One problem, arguably the biggest problem, is not directly discussed — will NFL Draft prospects even care to play a spring season? There are more than a handful of players on the University of Kentucky alone that would welcome the opportunity to improve their draft stock, but for the elite of the elite, like Purdue’s Rondale Moore, even if the NFL Draft is delayed, a spring college football season is not worth the risk of playing.
Despite all of the complications and potential drawbacks, one month from now we may all become spring football advocates. If the SEC, Big 12 and ACC cancel college football this fall, a spring 2021 season is the only remaining option on the table to salvage the season. There is no such thing as a dumb idea or perfect plan to play college sports during a pandemic. If it’s spring football or no college football, I’ll take spring football.
The Big Ten made it abundantly clear that player safety during the pandemic was the No. 1 reason why they canceled the fall football season. If player safety is such a priority, how can you ask them to play two (albeit shortened) football seasons in one calendar year?
Most of the document details how changes can be made to provide players the most rest possible. The proposal limits teams to one fully-padded practice per week. Instead of practicing in full pads 114 times to play 12 games, they will have 52 fully-padded practices to prepare for 18 games. It also gives teams three months to recover between seasons, more complete rest than a team ever gets in a given year.
As for the coronavirus, there are no guarantees that the problems we face today will be any different in January. “Vaccine” is a bolded optimistic hope. Even without a vaccine, Sankey’s “buying more time” method to observe how professionals handle outbreak problems should make conferences more prepared.
Weather — I appreciate that the cold-weather conference went to great lengths to make sure it isn’t too frigid to play football in February. The proposal calls for the northern-most teams to begin the season on the road and argues the average temperatures in November are the same as average temperatures in March.
Recruiting — How recruiting factors in may make this a non-starter for some coaches. The plan calls for a cancellation of the 2022 spring season to give players time to recuperate from the physical 2021 calendar year. Spring is the most vital time for recruiting in college football. While schools should get more valuable opportunities to host recruits in the spring of 2021, I doubt they’ll go for completely eliminating those opportunities the following year.
TV — “Play college football on Saturdays and college basketball on Sundays in the spring” is my own personal version of heaven. It could produce magical sports moments for the television audience, even if it creates conflicts with March Madness.
Something — This proposal is the most detailed plan we’ve seen. While many of the ideas might be considered ludicrous to some, this potential solution is better than nothing.