The NFL may be prepared to fill the void on Saturdays if the college football season is canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
A new report claims that the league is in preliminary discussions about hosting regular games on Saturdays if the college football season is called off. The report, from the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand, claimed that the league may work Saturday flexibility into the soon-to-be-released schedules. The NFL has traditionally held some late-season games on Saturdays, but only after college football’s regular season has ended.
“With the NFL expected to release its schedule soon, its officials have discussed giving the league some flexibility to move games to Saturdays this fall if college football postpones its entire season, according to sources,” Marchand wrote. “The NFL has had preliminary discussions with its broadcast partners about the idea. An NFL spokesman declined comment.”
Marchand reported that the league is unlikely to include Saturday games on the schedule when it is released in May, but it could leave room to flex more games a day ahead if there is no college football this year.
It remains unclear whether the college football season will move forward, or even if the NFL will be able to start on time in September. Marchand noted that the college football season would depend on whether colleges would be able to reopen campuses for the regular start of the fall semester and that it would be more difficult to ask non-professional players to compete if there is still a significant risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Others have expressed doubt about whether the college football season could more forward. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said in March that he would be “shocked” if there were a season, but weeks later said there could be a more creative approach that involves pushing it back several months.
“They’re going to do everything they can if it comes to that extreme to be able to potentially have a 2020 season,” Herbstreit said, via the New York Post, adding that there could be a “last-ditch effort” to move the season to the spring.
Top White House expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has also suggested that some sports may need to forgo 2020 seasons if they cannot ensure a plan that would keep players safe. Fauci had said that there could be a way to play some games this year, but without fans in the stands.