As the start of the normal college football season draws closer, schools and conferences are still scrambling to put together a 2020 schedule.
Wednesday, the Big Ten released conference-only schedules for all 14 teams. Other leagues have made similar decisions, or at least dramatically cut back on non-conference games. Fans, however, hope this is a one-year trend.
According to results from the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, more than half of NCAA football fans don’t want schedules to focus on conference games beyond this season.
While focusing on conference games was a relatively easy fix for most teams, not every school had that option. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, notoriously independent, instead came to an agreement with the ACC for the 2020 season.
Notre Dame competes in the ACC for other sports, but has remained independent for football. This year, however, they have agreed to an ACC schedule. Nationally, fans hope this becomes the new reality going forward. More than two-thirds of fans said they hope Notre Dame stays in the ACC permanently.
ACC fans specifically were even more in favor of the concept, 88% of fans from ACC schools voted in favor. On the other side of things, Notre Dame fans dramatically disagree. Only 14% of Notre Dame fans think the team should stay in the conference.
Notre Dame had long been linked to the Big Ten. But a majority of Big Ten fans are still in favor of the midwestern team staying in the ACC.
Now that we have a schedule in place, it’s time for schools to look long and hard at how they’ll try to balance revenue maximization with fan and player safety when it comes to putting fans in the stands.
As the NBA, NHL and MLB return to action without fans, schools across the country are forced to deal with a tough reality: they need football money to keep athletic departments afloat, but large gatherings are almost universally advised against. Additionally, while some schools have already announced plans to allow fans to attend college football games in a limited capacity, that doesn’t mean fans are eager to pack the stands.
In the last week’s SB Nation Reacts survey, fans were asked if they would be open to attending a college football game in person this season. Just over 50 percent of fans said they would.
It’s unlikely Iowa will allow 50% capacity at Kinnick this season, so the survey results may bode well for the school’s ability to sell the limited seats they do open to the public. Regardless of demand, it’s clear there will be a financial hit both for the athletic department budget and local businesses which rely on fans to support hotels, restaurants and bars and so much more in the Iowa City community.
Will you be attending games in Kinnick if Iowa sell limited capacity tickets? Should the Big Ten and other conferences focus on in-conference schedules over non-conference matchups?
To have your voice heard each week on topics such as these, sign up here to vote in the Reacts surveys.