On Monday, the college football world was rocked by news that the Big 10 will soon become the first Power 5 conference to cancel its fall football seasons.
Some college football insiders predict that once this happens, and the Big 10 joins the MAC and Mountain West as FBS conferences to delay football until the spring, the rest of the Power 5 conferences will fall like dominoes. (The Pac-12 is widely considered as the most likely to follow suit). Others, however, aren’t so ready to make such a drastic call.
The SEC is not moving toward canceling its fall football season, according to conversations with sources throughout the conference by AL.com’s John Talty. The conference, which unveiled its 10-game schedule on Friday, prefers to take a wait-and-see approach.
Football players are starting to lend their voices to a #WeWantToPlay movement that already includes Clemson superstar quarterback Trevor Lawrence. On Sunday night, at least three Razorbacks including Xavier Kelly, Ricky Stromberg and Andrew Parker, Jr. shared on Twitter how much they wanted to play in fall 2020.
On Monday, Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek said that the decisions of the Big 10 and Pac-12 won’t alter the SEC’s plans to play. “We’re not gonna panic because another Power 5 conference may be making a different decision,” he told sports talk show host Paul Finebaum. “In the Southeastern Conference, (Commissioner) Greg Sankey does an incredible job leading us. Part of his leadership in the past several months has been for us to be patient and take time in making decisions. These are some really impactful decisions we’re having to make and there’s no need to rush into making those decisions.”
Yurachek did, however, leave the door open for a possible fall cancellation in the next few weeks.
If you look at testing right now for our football program we have zero active cases and we have zero student-athletes currently quarantined on our campus. We’re ready to get started with practice next Monday….”
“The #WeWantToPlay is the right thing right now,” Yurachek said. “That could change in the next two or three weeks and I may change my opinion about that based on some additional information we may receive.,.”
As the schedule now stands, their first game wouldn’t come until September 19 against Mississippi State. For that road game, you can view the upcoming college football odds here once we get closer to its date. Make sure to check back later to see how the Hogs are predicted to fare against the Bulldogs, as well as for any prop bets on how long it will take for all Power 5 conferences to announce football postponements until spring.
Among Group of Five conferences, meanwhile, leaders of the Sun Belt (which shares the same geographic footprint as the SEC and ACC) have said they plan to follow the SEC’s lead and play this fall.
Sun Belt Conference plans to follow SEC’s lead & play sports this fall, sources told @Stadium— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 10, 2020
This sentiment came through loud and clear on Sunday evening when a group of Arkansas State football players released this announcement:
“Representing our fellow teammates at Arkansas State University, our football team’s Leadership Council can say with overwhelming conviction that not only do we want to play the 2020 season, but that we are also confident the appropriate steps are being taken to ensure we do so in a safe manner with everyone’s health and well-being the top priority.
We understand very important national conversations taking place at this time will determine the future of our season. We are respectfully issuing this unified message advocating to play the season so that our opinions and feelings on the matter may be heard by those making the decisions on how best to proceed.
We want it to be understood that our Arkansas State coaching staff, administration, doctors and trainers have been entirely transparent through this process, explaining the risks involved and the appropriate steps and measures being taken to reduce those risks. We 100 percent believe that these precautions have been effective and would allow for us to play with health and safety being at the forefront of everything we do.
We feel that our campus, and specifically our athletics facilities, are the safest place we can be during this time as we have access to additional safety protocols and health officials. Even if we suspend the season, there is no guarantee that we won’t contract the coronavirus and face risks, just like many others have who don’t play sports.
However, being in a structured environment with a daily health-and-prevention routine provides us peace of mind that our campus is doing everything possible to consider our safety first while still playing.
It is a privilege and honor to be a football player and student-athlete at Arkansas State, and to represent the state of Arkansas! We thank the coaching staff and administration for their constant consideration for care and prevention.
Go Red Wolves!”
While the future of college football in 2020 remains very much in doubt, there appears to be little question about what the players and leaders of Arkansas’ top two programs want.