Neuheisel: No College Football Could Have "Dire" Consequences

A canceled 2020 college football season would create significant “economic fallout,” Rick Neuheisel says

The DA Show
July 13, 2020 - 10:50 am
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If you’re a college football fan, you can only hope that there will be a 2020 season. If you’re an athletics department, well, the desire goes beyond want; it’s need.

“It is the elephant in the room: you cannot survive without it,”  CBS Sports college football analyst Rick Neuheisel said on The DA Show. “It provides all the bells and whistles for every sport on campus. There are only two sports on campus that can survive independently: football and men’s basketball. That’s it. Everything else is costing the university. If you’re not able to have football, then you’re going to just start whacking sports – and you’re going to see more of that if we go further, especially if we have to push to the spring. [If] the money spigot that is turned on to support everything in terms of the athletic department and all the sports involved [gets] shut off, you’re relying solely on donations. Donations are also waning because of what the likely impacts on the economy are going to be. So this is dire if we don’t get football played.”

A canceled college football season wouldn’t just affect the athletics department, either; it would affect the university as a whole.

“This is going to have a trickle-down effect on higher education in general,” said Neuheisel, who coached at Colorado, Washington and UCLA. “Right now, we’re having all these universities ask mom and dad across the country to keep footing the bill for college for their sons and daughters at full price, even though the education is going to be online. I think there’s going to be some resistance for that. And so, all of these pieces of the university life are going to be [different]. Elective surgeries at all of those campus hospitals have been gone by the wayside because the hospitals have to be used for the COVID-19 stuff. That is costing these universities a huge, huge amount of money. It’s an interesting time for higher education, no doubt about it.”

Given its importance, college football, one might assume, will definitely happen in some form or fashion in 2020. Neuheisel, however, isn’t convinced. He believes health, safety, and wellness will be the deciding factors.

“If COVID-19 continues to rear its head and we cannot get it under control – despite the fact that we’ve saved room going [to] a conference-only schedule to move games and so forth – I still think optically college football is going to struggle if they’re asking college football players to be on campus and no students can be there,” Neuheisel said. “If they say, ‘Students stay home’ – as we just lived through in the spring – it doesn’t make much sense to just have your football players there because optically that looks pretty exploitive when you’re trying to just make a buck to save everything. So I think it’s still possible that everything gets pushed back to the spring – and in that case, we’re going to see some economic fallout.”