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Chris Fowler: “I am convinced there will be a college football season.” But when?

The voice of ESPN’s prime time college football shares some “informed speculation” on Instagram that gives hope for the upcoming season.

Chris Fowler at the Rose Bowl Game 2020.

Chris Fowler is one of the most trusted voices in college football amongst the fans, and is pretty popular in a sport where every media member is accused of bias against your school at some point. On Monday, he took to Instagram to provide some “informed speculation” as he called it about whether or not we’ll have an upcoming season.

“And the question everyone is asking and pondering is will we have a season that unfolds normally? I say that’s impossible,” says Fowler. “What is normal even going to mean in society, in sports?”

That seems to be getting more obvious every day. Whether it’s a delayed start, or lack of fans in the stands, or plenty of other scenarios, it does seem like this season won’t kick off with Notre Dame vs. Navy in less than 140 days as originally expected.

“I am convinced there will be a college football season in the academic year 2021 at some point. What that might look like, when it might start? That is the topic of this video. I would call this informed speculation. It’s just speculation, but I’ve had conversations with people who are in the planning stages. They’re not the decision makers, but they’re planning the various scenarios and the what-ifs.”
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“College football is way more complicated than any pro sport. The NFL is getting heavy political pressure to begin on-time, and the networks want to see that too.”

This is absolutely true, as because college football is a amalgam of individual schools, many controlled by state governments, and each will need to make an individual decision. There’s no commissioner of college football to direct this from the top down.

Fowler then goes on to lay out three possible scenarios for the upcoming season, the first of which is the season starting on time or very close to it in 2020.

Scenario 1

“Scenario one, that’s what we hope for, but it doesn’t feel super-realistic to me and a lot of others that are pondering this.”

Scenario 2

“Scenario two is the season starts late, and maybe gets shortened a bit.”

Scenario 3

“There’s a third scenario that’s gaining momentum, and on the surface it might sound preposterous, but I think a lot of reasonable people feel like it might be the most prudent course of action, and that’s football in the spring. Beginning in February into March, April, May.”

The last one is starting to become the most interesting if you talk to athletic directors and coaches around the country. Could athletic departments handle having both football and basketball at the same time? Would you reschedule games around March Madness? With so many departments having financial issues due to the pandemic already, would they have to actually increase staffing to handle the overage here?

These are all questions where Fowler concedes no one has the answers to as of now. But as we close in on the end of May, some decisions will need to start being made by administrators because of all the red tape and negotiating that will have to take place ahead of the season.

There’s still plenty of obstacles, but for fans of the game that drives more passion than any other on the American sports landscape, it’s nice to hear a credible figure talk about playing some football again this season.