LINCOLN – Bill Moos, director of sports for Nebraska, was asked at close range, on a scale of 1 in 10, how confident he was about playing college football in the fall.
This is not the most important issue in this state. Not in a coronavirus pandemic. Not with the suffering, grief and pressure on so many families and jobs. But this is a question that perhaps points to an important respite. A rallying point required. Maybe even an escape.
Moos gave an interesting answer.
“I would say a 9,” said Moos. “And most likely, a 50-50 chance that will look like it has in the past. “
Soccer? Probably. Ordinary? Throw a coin. Reverse it all over the place as well, because the sport can be very close to what you’ve been through, very far from it, or, in a twist, maybe even different in a better way.
The answers – the definitive type in pigskin – have probably not been available for weeks, said Moos. End of June. Beginning of July. The pandemic is pushing the bus a little on it, as is the ability of sport to come together and operate schedules and seating plans. Big Ten sport directors meet daily – for one or two hours, Moos said – to discuss this dynamic. It took a lot of work and coordination on the part of many smart and hardworking people to bring the student-athletes back to campus and into voluntary training starting June 1st.
It was the first step. Moos believes student athletes will be safer at Lincoln than at home. Players will certainly have every support and protocol imaginable to guarantee it.
Now the additional steps. Will the pandemic – the spread of infections, the number of people hospitalized, the number of deaths – decrease across the country in the coming months? Can at least some regular students return to campus so that the school does not function as a ghost town with a football team? Will the season start on time? Could it start early? Could there be fans?
Let us pause for a second on this last question. Moos said he and his team had managed the financial numbers at full capacity versus various diminished capacities.
“We have a good idea of that,” said Moos. “It is revealing to say the least. The home game itself – before television and multimedia rights – is worth $ 12 million. Concession, parking, everything. If you are 50%, you can vaguely say that you are going to lose $ 6 million. ”
“Yeah. And if the television doesn’t get the inventory, you can’t expect to receive a full paycheck either, “said Moos. “And multimedia rights people depend on the size of those crowds. There is an argument that more people watch games on television than they normally do because they cannot enter the stadium. I speculate there, but these are subjects that are discussed daily. ”
And given that Nebraska fans have been dedicated enough for a streak of 50+, how willing could they be to accept the risks – considerable, perhaps – of participating?
“Nebraska fans are the best – I will go to the end of the world believing it,” said Moos. “And it would be no different from a Nebraska fan to say” hey, I’m going to be at Memorial Stadium unless someone tells me I can’t be there, because I’ve been there for four decades and I’m up for it if someone will tell them unless it’s politics. “
NU expects to keep its sold-out sequence if the stadium is as full as health and safety measures allow. Obviously, the renewal of tickets far exceeds the reduced capacity of the stadium.
After all, it’s a sold out sequence, not a show-up sequence. The number of tickets scanned by NU varies – sometimes from 20,000 fans – even in successful seasons, which, year after year, include sold-out sales.
Then the calendar itself. In a shortened season, it makes sense for the conferences to focus on the game within their own league. Husker volleyball coach John Cook in his podcast alluded to a busy schedule for Big Ten. But, if possible, Moos wants the off-conference games to stay.
NU plays in central Michigan, South Dakota and Cincinnati. Large contracts are involved. Schools like CMU and SDSU use the payments to help fund athletics departments while schools like Nebraska – in a typical season – pay schools like CMU and SDSU to win seven games at home.
“These schools depend on these guarantees and, mainly all of my colleagues, have at some point been in non-Power Five schools, and we all understand that,” said Moos.
Or think of Iowa, which plays in the state of Iowa and northern Iowa. It wouldn’t necessarily be easy for the Hawkeyes to get away from the games in play. On the Nebraska side, SDSU is four hours by bus from Lincoln. Given the payment of $ 515,000, this is a bus ride that the Jackrabbits want to do.
Anyway, all kinds of scenarios are on the table. The pandemic and the collective response of our community to slow its spread and reduce its impact are important, as are travel considerations. I only heard the conference and the division only. The latter would be quite fascinating, for a year. Imagine a home with Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, with lots of bus routes. Heck, imagine two games in Iowa / Minnesota, Floyd of Rosedale winning twice. The double pig!
These are all the steps to come. The first hurdle was overcome in the most logistically difficult sport to manage. Moos knows college football is worth it. He saw it after September 11, when sport helped America heal devastating terrorist attacks.
“Right now, we have no sports,” said Moos. “It would be therapeutic and useful and, from a moral point of view, it would be a real boost for our country. I hope we can get back to the college level, the professional level. And let’s also talk about high schools.
“America doesn’t just want – it needs – sports. “
Meet the staff of Nebraska football coaches
Scott Frost, head coach
Erik Chinander, defensive coordinator
Mario Verduzco, quarterback
Ryan Held, ball carrier and recruiting coordinator
Greg Austin, Offensive Line and Racing Game Coordinator
Sean Beckton, tight ends
Tony Tuioti, defensive line
Mike Dawson, linebackers
Barrett Ruud, internal linebackers
Travis Fisher, defensive backs