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How the NFL can take advantage if the 2020 college football season is canceled

Vincent Frank
Raiders cheerleaders during NFL game in London.
Oct 6, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Oakland Raiders raiderette cheerleaders perform on the NFL shield logo during an NFL International Series game against the Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the 2020 college football season won’t be played this fall. Entire conferences canceling their seasons. A recent report suggesting that the season is as good as done.

This is obviously one of the unintended consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also terribly bad news for fans who enjoy spending their Saturdays watching hours of college football.

However, there could be a potential silver lining here for the National Football League as its season is set to begin Sept. 10. Here’s how the NFL could take advantage of the situation should the college football season be canceled.

Change NFL schedule, play five days per week

  • As of right now, the NFL plays on Thursday, Sunday and Monday. It adds Saturday games to the mix late in the season when the college football regular season has concluded.
  • Why not add games Friday and Saturday? To take advantage of the lack of football on Saturday, the NFL could schedule multiple nationally televised games. If the season were to be played in a bubble (more on that later), the league would also schedule multiple regional broadcasts on Fox and CBS.
  • Said games would start at 1 pm ET, much like Sundays. They would be played through the normal nationally televised evening games we see on Thursday, Sunday and Monday.
  • For Friday, the NFL can schedule one prime-time game for fans needing a fix as their work week comes to a conclusion.

Play 2020 NFL season in a bubble

  • Sure the NFL has had some good COVID-related news recently, but there’s going to be outbreaks of the virus once the season starts in a month. That’s just the reality of the situation. It’s also way fans are unlikely to be able to attend games this season.
  • Why not attempt to play the 2020 season in a bubble-like atmosphere, like we’re seeing with the NBA and NHL? It has been bandied about within league circles. Though, there’s logistical concerns that would have to be answered.

Postpone the start of the 2020 NFL season

  • If the league were to look at a bubble, the start of the season would have to be postponed. It took the NBA a couple months to set up its bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
  • It wouldn’t necessarily be that big of a deal. Pushing the season back to the middle of October would do two things. It would enable the bubble to be created. In addition to this, the Super Bowl would be pushed back to March. Why is this a big deal? It’s simple. The NFL might be able to welcome fans to the biggest sporting event on the calendar.

Who would host the bubble?

  • The biggest question here is how a bubble might look and who would host it? Answering the second question first, California seems to make the most sense. One conference could play in Northern California with Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and the Oakland Coliseum hosting games. Venues at Stanford University in Palo Alto and the University of California in Berkeley could also host games.
  • The other conference would play games in Los Angeles. This includes the Coliseum, Rose Bowl, SoFi Stadium and potentially even the former home of the Chargers in Carson.
  • The NFL could amend its schedule to eliminate out of conference games. This would enable two different bubbles to be created. The four games each team plays outside of the conference would be replaced with games against another division within the conference.

Bottom line

The NFL is in a unique situation in that it can potentially take advantage if the 2020 college football season is canceled.

These options listed above seem to make the most sense in that they’d increase the chances that the season is completed. It would also impact the NFL’s bottom line during a season that the league is expecting record revenue losses.