SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ per month. Save 90%
SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ per month. Save 90%

Peterson: Heck yes, I want a safe and healthy fall college football season -- even if it's in the spring

Randy Peterson
Des Moines Register
Hundreds of people pack into the set of ESPN's "College GameDay" before the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game on Saturday, Sep. 14, 2019, outside of Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.

Heck yes, I want college football this fall. I wanted a 12-game regular season, but I’ll gladly settle for a safe and healthy 10. I want fans to be in the stands. Whether it’s 25 percent of 50 percent, I want whatever our college and health officials determine to be appropriate. I want an Iowa State quarterback occasionally to run a short-yardage play under the center, instead of in shotgun formation.

I want. I want. I want — and I want it now. If that makes me greedy in this view, then so be it.

Contrary to what may be social media perception, sports folks like myself want college football, and if you don’t believe me, then ask people with whom I occasionally talk.

Ask the Campbell family from Ames. Retired Ames physician Jon Fleming, too. And that active doctor in Ames to whom I talk, as well. Check in with the Dekkers of Hawarden, the Allens of Ankeny (who just happen to have two college-playing sons), and the Downings of Creston.

They know I want a healthy and safe start to the season, too. Deep down, I’m guessing many of us do, so to think everyone in my vocation is just a bunch of second-guessing naysayers — you might be half right, but naysayers regarding the start of college football season?

Not me.

As long as this grand sport can be played as safely as possible during this raging and horrific and undefined coronavirus pandemic . . . I’m all for it.

I’m skeptical about the start of public schools. I’m concerned when my daughter returns to her high school teaching job. I’m concerned, too, for my sixth-grade granddaughter. I trust the school districts in which they work and attend school will keep them as safe. I trust all school districts will keep our future leaders safe, because isn’t school supposed to be a safe place?

I trust that the Iowa State football team about whom I’m paid to write, will be as safe as possible, also.

Everyone will wear a mask while on the sidelines during games. Players will have those see-through visors attached to their helmets, too.

That column I wrote a long time ago about players not shaking hands after games this season that some of you questioned? Hands will not be shaken.

Some college players throughout the country have opted out for the season. That’s all right. No one should resent them for making that decision. They'll retain their scholarships, if they want. Their futures are at stake. Futures of their families are at stake. They’re amateurs. Beyond the scholarship and what goes along with it, they’re unpaid. They don’t share in the revenue they’ve generated. If they don’t want to play, then we must respect that decision.

But will they have a sport to play in the fall? Prevailing recent thought is no. Prevailing current thought is that all college football will be shut down by Wednesday — by Friday at the latest.

The Mid-American Conference became the first FBS league to push football to the spring, There was weekend chatter about the Big Ten and Pac-12 following, but maybe not in that order. Someone with administrative power said this could happen within a few days. More conferences could declare intent to play football in the spring. If two Power Five conference do it, I presume others will follow.

Jamie Pollard, Iowa State’s athletics director, has outlined multiple times what no college football would mean for the program he oversees. The community in which his school exists would suffer, too. Football is financially gigantic. Without football and the millions of bucks that go with it, a sport other than football, basketball, volleyball and wrestling could be cut, and that’s not just in Ames. It’s everywhere.

Iowa State fans cheer during the Cy-Hawk football game at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019 in Ames.

It’s easy to sit back and say bloated coaching salaries must be slashed now, but that’s being absolutist. The next round of contract renewals seems more likely for that. Many major football coaches have already given some of their paychecks back. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell has even paid part of what his assistants were docked.

I know it’ll be tough. I know, too, that administrators haven’t been watching Gunsmoke reruns since the middle of February. They’ve been working diligently on trying to come as close as they can to nailing a target that moves by the hour.

They want a safe and healthy college football season, too, even if it''s a spring season.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been writing for the Des Moines Register for parts of six decades. Reach him at rpeterson@dmreg.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete. No one covers the Cyclones like the Register. Your subscription makes work like this possible. Subscribe today at DesMoinesRegister.com/Deal