Bender: Power Five Conferences "Didn't Work Together"

The college football chaos stemming from COVID-19 reflects poorly on the Power Five, as conferences seem unable or unwilling to cooperate on the path forward

JRSportBrief
August 11, 2020 - 9:32 am
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The Big Ten was reportedly prepared to cancel the 2020 college football season Monday. Then word got out, and then, well, all hell broke loose.

It remains to be seen how the Big Ten – and other conferences – will proceed in the days and weeks ahead.

“I think the SEC and the ACC will probably wait until the last minute,” Sporting News national college football writer Bill Bender told JR SportBrief. “The Big Ten, I think they kind of flew out a balloon for us [Monday], and then the reaction was pretty visceral. I live in Big Ten country. I live in Ohio – South Columbus. You saw Ohio State and Michigan make passionate statements afterward. Penn State and Nebraska followed. Those are four pretty big voices.”

Ohio State coach Ryan Day tweeted that he was “swinging as hard as we possible can right now for these players.” Jim Harbaugh, meanwhile, released a statement advocating for the 2020 season.

“Ultimately, I think the Big Ten will postpone, delay, do whatever they have to do,” Bender said. “I think the Pac-12 will postpone or delay. The Big 12 is kind of in the middle. They’ve been the Wild Card the whole time. I’m not sure what they’re going to do.”

If some conferences cancel or postpone the season but others do not, things could get pretty interesting. In fact, Nebraska coach Scott Frost said Monday that the Cornhuskers are open to playing the 2020 season in another conference.

“The SEC will hold out the longest,” Bender said. “I know that. I’ve just got that feeling. They’re going to hold out because of the economic impact it has on those schools and those states. They don’t have pro teams for the most part.”

Ultimately, though, the chaos and lack of a coherent plan reflects poorly on the Power Five.

“It’s all interconnected, and they all didn’t work together,” Bender said. “Now we’re seeing the end result of power conferences not really cooperating with each other the whole way through.”