College Football Returns… for Most


Brooke Simpson

UT students look on during the first quarter of a game against UTEP on Sep. 12.

Jack Carmichael, Managing Editor, Perspectives Editor

If there is a brightside to 2020, it’s that we will get to watch college football. 

George Soye ‘22 said, “The thing I am most excited about is that we are going to have an actual college football season.”

However, the 2020 college football season will be like no other, as a number of notable conferences have decided to postpone their seasons.  

The Big 10 and the Pac-12, which represents two of the Power 5 leagues, have delayed or cancelled their 2020 season. In addition, Group of 5 members, MAC and Mountain West, will also not play this fall.

The good news is that Power-5 leagues, such as the Big 12, SEC and the ACC will be playing football this fall, plus the American Athletic, Conference USA and the Sun Belt conferences from the Group of 5 will also play a revamped schedule.

For the teams that are playing, the season has been modified intensely. 

  • An additional 10 yards have been added to each end of the sidelines allowing the players to further spread out. 
  • Only one captain will go out for the coin toss. 
  • Players can wear a cloth mask over the bottom half of their facemask. 
  • Schools and conferences must approve the message, but players will be allowed to wear social justice messages or patches on their jerseys.

    The Rose Bowl Stadium, in Pasadena, California, empty, like many stadiums around the country will be for this football season. (Ted Eytan)
  • Officials will use electronic whistles, instead of the traditional whistles that are blown into. 
  • Players and officials are required to go through testing at least once a week.  
  • Many stadiums have cut capacity down to 25% or less. Some stadiums aren’t allowing any fans in the stadium. 

The preseason AP Top 25 poll had nine teams that will not be taking the field in the fall of 2020, including three of the top 10. 

As for who is in contention for the College Football Playoff this season, Clemson and Alabama are still here. Both teams lost a lot of offensive production but both Travis Etienne (Clemson) and Najee Harris (Alabama) returned for their senior seasons citing “unfinished business’ in their decisions. 

Outside of those two, Georgia returns eight players off of one of the top defenses in the nation last season. They will be led by transfer quarterback J.T. Daniels from USC. 

Ohio State would be a top contender in college football if they were going to play. They would have been led by Heisman trophy contender Justin Fields and former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon. They also have a talented core of young receivers, including star sophomore Garrett Wilson, junior Chris Olave, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a highly touted freshman from Rockwall, Texas. 

While some of the big name players will not be taking the field this year, you can still see some of the best players play. The projected #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence, will lead his Clemson Tigers alongside star running back Travis Etienne. 

Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith forgoed the draft to return for his senior season and will join the electrifying Jaylen Waddle. The quarterback competition is undecided, but either way the Crimson Tide are in good hands. 

LSU cornerback Derek Stingely is one of the two starters from LSU’s title team that is still here. The top rated cornerback in all of college football will suit up for the Tigers the next two falls before he is even draft eligible. 

Oklahoma State running back Chubba Hubbard is back for another year in Stillwater. The 2,000 yard rusher from a year ago will be joined by a healthy Tylan Wallace at wide receiver to form one of the most dynamic duos in college football.

Some of the top players to not take the field include quarterbacks Justin Fields (Ohio State), Trey Lance (North Dakota State), Penei Sewell (Oregon), and linebacker Micah Parsons (Penn State).

Locally, the Horned Frogs are definitely an interesting team to watch. They return two of the top 50 players in the country in junior safety Trevon Moehrig and senior linebacker Garret Wallow, as well as, star sophomore safety Ardarius Washington. The Horned Frogs also had an incredible offseason bringing in their first 5-star recruit ever in Zach Evans. They also brought in LSU transfer Marcel Brooks and Nebraska wide receiver J.D. Spielman. TCU’s defense should be at the top of the conference again. 

Frogs O’ War Managing Editor and TCU insider Jamie Plunkett said, “Now that Marcel Brooks has been cleared to play, I’m really excited to see how Gary Patterson uses him on defense. He’s athletic enough to play everywhere, and reports out of practice say that he has brought a new level of swagger to the defense.”

But the question comes from the offense. Sophomore quarterback Max Duggan, is out for the early portion of the season, due to a heart condition that he was born with. Duggan underwent a medical procedure over the summer, and is waiting for the all clear to get back on the field. After a cancellation to the SMU matchup, the Frogs are slated to begin the season on September 26th against Iowa State. 

College football has made it through week two. No outbreaks have been linked to games so far. Will that remain? Who knows?

The 2020 college football season is full of questions and will continue to be. Will the Big Ten play football? How will the Big Ten and Pac-12 not playing affect the College Football Playoff discussion and how will the College Football Playoff race be affected by the lack of teams in contention? Will some teams be able to play a full schedule without being severely impacted by COVID-19? 

“We’re in such a strange position, there are a ton of unknowns. It’ll be interesting to see how everything plays out,” Plunkett said. 

But 2020 will see college football. In a year full of downs, maybe college football can spark some good. 

As ESPN Senior Writer, Ryan McGee, put it, “In the end, we are still what we were before 2020 and what we will be after… College football fans.”


UPDATE: On September 16th, the Big 10 Conference announced that they would play football. Their eight game, conference only, schedule will start October 24th (Ohio State is once again a championship contender).

The Mountain West Conference also released a statement on the 16th, revealing that they are working on a plan to return as soon as possible. 

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott continues to make it clear that they are not discussing a return to the field in the fall of 2020. The Mid-Atlantic Conference emphasized that their complete focus is on spring football.