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CUSA Football Begins 2020 Season Tonight

It is the start of a version of college football season. This will not be anything like the previous 25 years of CUSA football, or any level because of the global pandemic. COVID-19 has caused us to cancel the NCAA tournament, the 2019 conference basketball tournaments, and the majority of fall sports. CUSA is going ahead with a modified schedule, playing eight conference games and up to four non-conference games. This is largely because of the economics of the league.

CUSA is dependent of the largesse of the rich leagues. They need schedule-filler, and CUSA teams are happy to oblige. Foregoing the season is easier for the rich leagues because they can float on the previous yearsโ€™ revenue, or take out loans against future revenue. 1

This will not be a normal season and there is some doubt as to whether it will ever conclude. For now, UAB, last yearโ€™s defending West champ will take on Central Arkansas in their opener before traveling to Miami (maybe) later next week. UCA has already beaten Austin Peay in their opener.

Also playing tonight are Southern Miss and South Alabama, in their first ever matchup. USM had one of the most explosive and fun teams last season but lost a lot of talent. Steven Anderson, Racheem Booth, Jacques Turner, and Jaylond Adams are among those sitting out the season and looking to transfer.

Normally here is where I tell you about the chances of each program to win the league, fight for a bowl game, and develop as a program. There is no telling whether or not this season will conclude despite the progress made. There is news about a vaccine but it is untested. The smart people say that a good vaccine takes a long time to prove not only effective, but without side effects.

The State of College Football

  • ACC is playing Sept 12, with 10 conference games and one non-league game
  • Big 12 is playing nine conference games and one non-league game
  • The Big Ten postponed fall competition, much to the chagrin of the parents of many players.
  • The PAC 12 is postponing all league competition this fall
  • The SEC is playing 10 conference games
  • AAC is going eight plus up-to-four non-conference games
  • CUSA is playing eight conference, with up to four non-conference
  • MAC postponed all league games
  • Mountain West postponed
  • Sun Belt is going eight conference games plus 4 non-conference
  • UCONN, UMASS, NMST have cancelled the season
  • Army and Liberty have revised their schedules. BYU has eight on the calendar.

The Big Ten is considering another vote after all the uproar, while a Penn State doctor says about 30-35% have myocarditis after contracting COVID-19.

Here’s hoping everything goes smoothly tonight, and no one comes out of this endeavor sick, or with lifelong effects from the virus. Meanwhile, this is shaping up to be a transformative year for the sport itself. Name, image, and license rights are coming to change the way the sport does business, and this pandemic could fundamentally change the incentive structure of the sport. Athletes are collectively organizing and we could see the first steps toward a professionalization of all college sports.

While change is always scary, it doesn’t have to be a negative. Universities make money from business endeavors all of the time and a world in which, say, Old Dominion runs a minor league football team that offers scholarships to the university as part of its compensation package and funnels profits to fund the university mission is not unpalatable.

For now, we watch UAB and Southern Miss and hope for the best for all parties.

  1. Even then, the rich leagues are having to tighten the belt.

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