While the Big Ten and Pac-12 claim they will try to play a college football season in the spring, Ohio State assistant athletic director and former head football coach Urban Meyer doesn't buy it.
In an interview with the Big Ten Network, Meyer spoke openly about his thoughts on the conferences' decisions and said they might as well have used the word ‘canceled' instead.
"No chance," Meyer said. "You can't ask a player to play two seasons in a calendar year. When I first heard that, I said that. I don't see that happening when I hear that. The body, in my very strong opinion, is not made to play two seasons within a calendar year. That's 2,000 repetitive reps, and football's a physical, tough sport. So, I don't, really don't, see that happening."
After advice from medical experts, the conferences came to the decision fall football was not possible due to the coronavirus pandemic and other health concerns linked to the virus. Instead, they looked to the spring as a hopeful alternative. However, a spring season poses concerns of its own.
As Meyer referenced, injuries are a primary issue for athletes playing back-to-back seasons. While the spring season could be feasible, the fall 2021 season could leave players at an especially high risk of injury.
Experts have compared the situation to the 2011 NFL lockout when the league saw a sudden spike in soft tissue injuries due to the fast ramp-up without ample time to recover or prepare. In a sport as grueling as football, combining recovery with ramp-up times could be detrimental to players' futures.
Meyer also noted the concern of a spring season conflicting with the NFL Draft in April and how many players would forgo the college season as a result.
"We recruited players at Ohio State that have a chance to earn a living and play the game and be rewarded for their great efforts, and you're going to ask them to play spring football - by the way - and then go miss OTAs and not prepare for a dream to go play in a professional football?" Meyer said. "That's not fair."
Multiple players already chose to opt out of the 2020 fall football season for health reasons and declared for the 2021 NFL Draft early, but if a season is played in the spring, Meyer expects those numbers will skyrocket.
In addition to these challenges, college administrators are still uncertain whether COVID-19 will improve by the spring and have to deal with the financial impacts of postponing or canceling college football and basketball –– especially how it will influence the ability to play other sports seasons.
Meyer's perspective directly conflicts those of many other college coaches around the country, especially the Big Ten. Before the Big Ten released its announcement, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was adamant that playing a season this year could be done safely. Nebraska head coach Scott Frost openly said his program will look elsewhere to play college football this season despite the Big Ten's announcement.
Ultimately, the conferences' decisions will be made by the virus and its development over the next few months. However, Meyer brings valid points to the table that must be factored into the discussion.
Whether or not more Power 5 sides like the SEC and ACC follow suit remains to be seen, but it is widely speculated that these football-crazed conferences are determined to find a way.
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Urban Meyer says there's 'no chance' of spring football being played originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington