The PAC-12 put an end to a news cycle of constant speculation on Tuesday when the conference’s CEO group voted to postpone all athletic competition through the end of the calendar year. The decision came in the immediate wake of the Big Ten making the same announcement just hours earlier.
In a zoom session with local media, Arizona State Athletic Director Ray Anderson and Coach Herm Edwards addressed what the decision means for the Sun Devil athletic department, specifically the football program.
On the Announcement
Although the decision was made officially on Tuesday, rumors and reports had been circulating that this conclusion was a likely outcome. Still, for a group of football players who have been tirelessly working all offseason and recently engaged in a twitter campaign to try to save their season, the news hit hard.
“This is just devastating for these athletes,” Anderson said. “It’s adversity, but now it’s about how you respond to that adversity.”
Edwards followed up with his specific account of breaking the news to his team, who have been participating in early season workouts under strict COVID-19 protocol.
“I had told the team they would hear the news from me as soon as I knew, and they did,” Edwards said. They’re disappointed, they’re all disappointed.”
Prominent Sun Devil players like sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels took to twitter following the announcement, expressing a combination of displeasure and disbelief with a simple two word phrase.
that’s wicked..— Jayden Daniels (@JayD__5) August 11, 2020
A potential Spring ‘21 season
Both of the aforementioned conferences have erased any hope for intercollegiate athletics to take place in 2020, but the possibility of the fall season being pushed to the Spring semester of 2021 remains a possibility. While this idea does provide a glimmer of hope for fans and athletes alike, Edwards and Anderson highlighted some glaring issues that would come with playing two football seasons within a calendar year.
“The thought of two football seasons in one calendar year, asking football players to do that may not be the healthiest thing to do,” Anderson said. “If the whole reason we’re doing this is to protect the athletes, then turning around and subjecting them to too many games and practices doesn’t make much sense.”
Edwards compared it to taking on an NFL schedule and then some, but also cited that his team has plans in place to be ready for anything, including challenges that may be presented by the elements.
“You say it’s spring, but when you go to Washington State and Oregon and Colorado, that’s not spring, it’s winter,” he said.
Another concern with Spring football is the NFL calendar, and the draft that usually takes place at the end of April. Edwards speculated that the opt out situation may resemble that of bowls in a normal year, intimating that a players’ prospective draft position would likely dictate whether he plays.
Ramifications of a Year Without Football
For most major universities, the football and basketball programs provide funding for the majority of the school’s other sports. The pandemic has already wreaked havoc on athletic departments across the country, including PAC-12 foe Stanford. Anderson is adamant that ASU will not fall victim to that same fate.
“We are gonna do everything within our power to maintain the student athlete experience we have been able to provide here,” he said. “Stanford had a whole bunch of them (Sports) And now they’re down to 25-26, which is where we are. We certainly do not intend to decrease that number.”
Finances will certainly be on the forefront of the Anderson’s mind in the coming months, and the lack of gate revenue from football and early season men’s basketball games will be a challenge. Anderson said the department is willing to work with season ticket holders to find a solution that helps both parties.