The Football Oversight Committee on Thursday agreed to recommend a spring season model to the Division I Council that will give conferences that push their seasons to spring of 2021 15 practices in 29 days, and an eight-game season that must end by April 17th.
Any other conferences that have postponed their season because of the coronavirus but decide to resume playing games earlier than next spring will not be able to use the 15-practice model, but it will be recommended all leagues that have postponed will have 13 weeks to complete their seasons.
The committee will also ask the Council to extend the recruiting dead period to Oct. 31, and to eliminate the evaluation period for football in the fall.
The Division I Council is expected to vote on the recommendations at its Sept. 16 meeting.
West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, the chair of the FOC, told ESPN that the committee wanted to give any conferences not playing the flexibility to determine their schedule, but said that for any leagues pushing their season back to the spring, it would be an eight-game schedule. Any conferences that start earlier can play more games within their allotted 13 weeks.
If the Big Ten or any other league resumes play in late November, it wouldn’t be allowed to use the proposed practice format of 29 days to have 15 practices as is the case during a typical spring season. Only teams that push the season to spring of 2021 would be able to make use of that model.
“There was a concern about having more than eight games if you’re only in the spring,” Lyons said. “If you’re using your 13 weeks in both terms, then you don’t get fall ball or spring ball. You don’t get your cake and eat it, too.”
“The April 17 date is key because we’re trying to get it to where there’s enough time between the last competition and starting back up in August and having a normal, ’21-22 football season,” he said. “There’s expectation that the coaches, the conferences and the medical experts work through what the spring and competition would look like from a health and safety standpoint.”
Four of the 10 FBS conferences — the Big Ten, Pac-12, Mountain West and Mid-American — have postponed their seasons because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and are currently allowed 12 hours each week that includes time for strength and conditioning, meetings and five hours of on-field activities with helmets per week.
Lyons said there could still be spring bowl games after the 13-week season, if that postseason possibility becomes a reality. The 2021 NFL Draft is on April 29.
The split college football seasons have also raised a question for mid-year enrollees, high school athletes who graduate in December and enroll in college in January so they can participate in spring practices. Instead of practicing, though, some teams might be playing games – opening the door for debate about whether those recent high school graduates will be eligible for competition.
“There was not support to allow mid-year enrollees, transfers or incoming freshmen to compete in the spring semester,” Lyons said.
The committee wanted to eliminate the recruiting evaluation period in the fall because three-fourths of it has already been missed, Lyons said, and the coaches won’t be able to make that time up in one month.