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Saturday, July 11, 2020

College Football

Report: Kirk Herbstreit could call both ‘Monday Night Football’ and college games

Kirk Herbstreit

Kirk Herbstreit has been mentioned as a possible addition to ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast team this year if the college football season is postponed or canceled, but apparently we could see him calling NFL games even if the NCAA season kicks off on schedule.

The idea of Herbstreit joining the “Monday Night Football” crew is gaining momentum, and Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported on Wednesday that Herbstreit could team up with play-by-play front-runner Steve Levy for NFL games and remain with Chris Fowler on ESPN’s top college football broadcast team. It is viewed as unlikely that Fowler would also pull double duty, so there’s only a chance we’d see him on “Monday Night Football” broadcasts if the college season is delayed or called off.

Marchand notes that Herbstreit joining “MNF” is far from a done deal, and other color analysts are still in consideration to be paired with Levy. Those candidates include Brian Griese, Louis Riddick and Dan Orlovsky.

In other words, the only thing that’s certain is that Herbstreit and Fowler will continue as ESPN’s No. 1 college broadcast duo if there is an NCAA football season. If the start of the season is delayed or canceled, we could see both move to “Monday Night Football.” And no matter what the outcome, there is a chance we will see Herbstreit calling NFL games.

ESPN has officially moved on from Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland, and they are focusing on internal candidates after a slew of former NFL quarterbacks turned down the network’s massive offers.

Jim Harbaugh says pandemic derailed contract extension talks

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh is definitely still in Michigan’s good graces, if his comments on Wednesday are any indication.

The Wolverines head coach said he was close to a contract extension with the school before the COVID-19 pandemic put the discussions on the backburner.

“There’s bigger fish to fry for our athletic director, or our administration, me as a coach,” Harbaugh told reporters during a Zoom interview, via Larry Lage of the Associated Press. “It hasn’t been on the top of the priority list. I would expect something, that there would be an announcement at some time.

“It was kind of right there last February, where it was being discussed, and then the pandemic hit.”

There have been numerous rumors that Harbaugh is looking at an NFL return in light of his perceived underachievement at Michigan. Harbaugh has shot those down before in no uncertain terms. Assuming he’s telling the truth here, that’s still the case.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has previously said that he would like Harbaugh to retire at Michigan. For all the rumors and speculation about the coach’s future, it seems the school is happy to stand by that.

Ivy League postponing fall sports does not mean college football won’t happen in 2020

NCAA logo

Back in March, the Ivy League was the first to cancel its college basketball conference tournament, setting off a chain reaction of many other conferences doing the same amid the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately, March Madness was canceled. On Wednesday, the Ivy League announced that they will not be playing sports in the fall. They did not say whether the sports could be played next year.

Though the league’s decision could signal what will be coming for other conferences, the circumstances of this situation are different.

As The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman points out, the revenue gap between what the Ivy League generates in football and what a major college football conference like the Big Ten generates in football revenue is significant.

The Ivy League generated about $30.1 million in football revenue in 2019, compared to about $1 billion for the Big Ten last year.

The point is: when doing an economic cost-benefit analysis, the decision to not play sports in the fall for Ivy League teams is a much easier one to make because there are fewer costs. For conferences like the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, which are comprised of many public schools, the financial impact is much greater, giving administrators more to consider and more reasons to try making a season take place.

Keep in mind that the Ivy League has not outright canceled fall sports; they have just said they will not play sports in the fall.

Their athletic directors reportedly are open to a spring football season.

Maybe Division I FBS programs will not play a season this fall. Maybe the season will be postponed until the spring. But remember there is a lot more at stake financially for FBS programs — especially the Power 5 conferences — than there is for an Ivy League program.

Big Ten, Pac-12 reportedly planning to play conference-only football schedule

The Big Ten Conference is still planning on football games being played this fall, but teams will reportedly only be playing against other schools in their conference. The same could be true of the Pac-12 and other major conferences.

According to Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic, the Big Ten is expected to announce on Thursday that it will play a conference-only schedule this fall.

There has also been talk of delaying the start of the college football season, which could still happen. ESPN’s Heather Dinich and Mark Schlabach confirmed Auerbach’s report, noting that some Big Ten schools wanted to play one non-conference opponent to preserve marquee matchups. However, there has been “overwhelming support” for a 10-game, conference-only schedule.

Major conferences rely on football as a significant source of revenue, so canceling the football season would be a last resort. According to college football reporter Brian Fischer, the Pac-12 is expected to follow the Big Ten’s lead in the coming days.

The Ivy League announced on Wednesday that it is postponing sports for the fall, though we already explained why that does not necessarily mean other conferences will follow. Canceling or postponing the football season would be a last resort for Power 5 conferences, and it seems likely that they will all follow the Big Ten’s lead.

Matt Leinart says spring college football would be ‘catastrophic’ for players

Matt Leinart

Matt Leinart questions the wisdom of possibly playing a spring college football season.

The possibility of playing a college football season in the spring has been raised if programs deem a fall season too difficult/unsafe to take place. Major college football programs are reluctant to cancel a season due to the revenue loss their schools would incur. Playing in the spring would be a fallback option, and one Leinart does not like.

The former Heisman Trophy winner called spring football a “terrible idea.”

Leinart believes it would be “catastrophic” on the bodies of young players to have them play a spring season and then another season in the fall of 2021. He adds that players would sit out the spring season — likely the ones eligible for the NFL Draft.

Leinart, who played at USC from 2003-2005 and now is an analyst for FOX college football, seems to support playing a fall season.

For now, the Big Ten and Pac-12 reportedly are planning to play conference-only football schedules.

Report: Administrators upset by Big Ten’s ‘covert’ announcement

Big Ten

The Big Ten announced on Thursday that they will be playing a conference-only schedule for college football in the fall. Their announcement reportedly bothered other school administrators.

SI’s Ross Dellenger reported on Thursday that some administrators were “perturbed” by the conference’s announcement, describing it as covert.

FBS commissioners are set to meet on Friday, so the thinking is they could have discussed matters with other conferences and worked on possibly a bigger announcement.

The SEC commissioner said in a statement that the conference will continue to discuss things before making a decision.

The Pac-12 reportedly is expected to go to a conference-only season as well.

Why would the conferences move to a conference-only season? There could be a few reasons.

The non-conference games generally are at the start of the season, so canceling them could give schools a little more time to see how things play out related to the coronavirus. Only playing within a conference could also theoretically limit travel and result in uniformity as far as testing and other health protocol/measures go.

Pac-12 to play conference-only football schedule for 2020 season

Pac-12

The Pac-12 is expected to move to a schedule of only conference games for the 2020 college football season.

On Thursday, the Big Ten announced they would be scrapping non-conference games and focusing only on a conference schedule. Such a schedule could theoretically lead to a reduction in travel, give more time before the season begins since non-conference games are usually scheduled early in the season, and could result in more uniformity in testing and health/safety protocol among conference members.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

The Pac-12 is comprised of four California schools (Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA), two Oregon schools (Oregon and Oregon State), two Arizona schools (Arizona and Arizona State), two Washington schools (Washington and Washington State), as well as Utah and Colorado.

The three other Power 5 conferences have not yet made an announcement. The ACC is expected to announce a decision in late July; SEC athletic directors are set to meet next week; and the Big 12 could follow what the ACC does.

At this point, it would not be a surprise to see many other conferences do the same and go to conference-only schedules.

The Big Ten reportedly angered some other school administrators by making the announcement on Thursday rather than talking with other conferences first.