Column: College football should be postponed. But if it’s played here’s what ODU’s schedule could look like.

Let’s get this straight: No college football should be played this fall. None. Forget it.

Put the helmets and pads away. Pencil in the games for January. Or February. Make spring football happen. COVID-19 wins 2020. College football fans, players and coaches - and your local Sports section - lose.

But here’s the thing: colleges need college football more than ever. The financial crisis on campuses large and small, exacerbated with every week we can’t tamp down the coronavirus, are well documented. Old Dominion killed wrestling, Stanford eliminated 11 - ELEVEN - sports. Things will get worse for colleges with no football season because that means no TV or sponsorship dollars.

At mid-majors like ODU, the absence of ticket sales, concessions and parking conspire to add to the financial woes. Without ACC- or SEC-caliber TV contracts, fanless games simply aren’t a profitable option for leagues like Conference USA.

The ACC’s announcement Wednesday that its football teams would play 10 regular-season conference games and one non-conference opponent shouldn’t surprise those who follow the sport and the financial chaos. Make no mistake: The ACC is a business and a fall without football will hurt.

Hampton, Norfolk State and William & Mary already have suspended all fall sports, including football. Old Dominion and Conference USA have not yet announced plans. ODU athletic director Wood Selig didn’t sound optimistic when he recently told “In all honesty, until there is a vaccine, I think we’re just kidding ourselves into thinking that it’s going to be safe (to hold athletic events) and that we’re going to be OK.”

But will the ACC’s decision impact ODU’s thinking? Should it? The possibilities are intriguing.

Consider: Old Dominion already has two ACC schools on its 2020 schedule – both at S.B. Ballard Stadium. Wake Forest is slated to visit in the season opener Sept. 4, and Virginia is scheduled to play at ODU Oct. 24.

The ACC’s announcement Wednesday mandated that the non-conference game be played in the ACC’s home state, so that could rule out a Wake Forest visit to Norfolk. But could the ACC make an exception, or would ODU agree to go to Wake? Let’s assume one or the other, and U.Va. keeps ODU. How would ODU fill the rest of its 11-game schedule? What if Conference USA allows teams to forgo long-distance conference trips for a more a regional schedule to both save travel dollars and prevent the coronavirus spread?

ACC schools are permitted a non-conference opponent, so ... what if Virginia Tech hosts ODU in Blacksburg? The Hokies and ODU have played in back-to-back seasons, with the Monarchs shocking the Hokies in Norfolk in 2018 and losing 31-17 last season. One problem: Virginia Tech already has Liberty on its schedule, so will the Hokies keep that as their non-conference game? The Flames undoubtedly will insist so.

Speaking of Liberty, how about a Flames-ODU game this season? Liberty defeated the Monarchs 52-10 in Lynchburg in the 2018 season opener.

Old Dominion certainly would have to keep some C-USA games, so let’s go with four nearby - at least for far-flung C-USA - already on the schedule: vs. Middle Tennessee Sept. 26; at Western Kentucky Oct. 31; at Charlotte Nov. 14; at home vs. Marshall Nov. 28.

That leaves two, possibly three, more games. James Madison – ODU’s former Colonial Athletic Association rival – has announced it will play football as long as there is a Football Championship Subdivision postseason. Fans on social media already have implored ODU to leave C-USA to the CAA.

Another regional opponent is easy to find: East Carolina. The Pirates and ODU played during the past two seasons, with ECU winning both.

If one of these opponents is unavailable or unwilling to play ODU, there’s one more intriguing opponent: Navy. The Midshipmen and ODU have never played, but a Navy-ODU game would have great appeal to fans in Hampton Roads.

There you have it. Maybe I’ve oversimplified things. This assumes all these teams play football, would be willing to add ODU, and there certainly are contracts to negotiate or re-negotiate.

Football shouldn’t be played this fall, but if it is, and if the Monarchs and new coach Ricky Rahne run out of the tunnel at S.B. Ballard Stadium, it could be interesting to watch.

Jami Frankenberry, 757-446-2376,


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