There is no question of if, but lots of questions of how, Alabama football will contend for championships in the 2020 season.
For more than a decade Alabama football fans expect the Crimson Tide to contend for a conference and national championship every season. Through most of the Bear Bryant years, it was the same. Will 2020 be different? The expectations will not and should not change.
A potentially unique college football season may alter the realities of season schedules. So much so, the 2020 National Championship process could dramatically change.
On May 12, NCAA President, Mark Emmert said the season may not have a uniform schedule or format. He added that neither the NCAA or Conference Commissioners will make the final decisions.
Normally, there’s an agreed-upon start date for every sport, every season, but under these circumstances, now that’s all been derailed by the pandemic. It won’t be the conferences that can do that either. It will be the local and state health officials that say whether or not you can open and play football with fans.
Local and state officials in California, the Pacific Northwest and Northeastern states like New Jersey and Massachusetts will likely have different opinions and restrictions than in the SEC.
College football coaches are in near-unanimous agreement that all programs should begin pre-seasons on the same date. That is a sound, ‘level playing field’ opinion. Unfortunately, it may prove to be unattainable.
The best estimate for resolution of these issues, for a normal, fall season start-up, is July 1.
Given all the noise created by the unknown, Alabama football fans want clarity sooner than later. Crimson Tide, Athletic Director, Greg Byrne and others in the SEC have been pretty clear. They expect the SEC will have a season. Even if some or all non-conference games prove unfeasible, SEC teams could get a season by only playing each other. That creates a high probability the 2020 season will have an SEC Champion.
A national championship might prove more difficult. On the positive side, the College Football Playoff by design does not depend on oversight by the NCAA. The Playoff is in the control of two groups, representing schools and conferences.
The better-known group is the CFP Management Committee. It is made of 10 FBS Conference Commissioners, plus a Notre Dame representative. The more powerful CFP committee is also the same 10-plus-1 structure. The College Football Playoff Board of Managers are 11 Presidents and Chancellors. The members are listed below.
- AAC — R. Gerald Turner, SMU
- ACC — John Thrasher, Florida State
- Big Ten — Eric Barron, Penn State
- Big 12 — Greg Fenves, Texas
- Conference USA — Rodney Bennett, Southern Miss
- Independents — Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame
- MAC — Satish Tripathi, Buffalo
- MWC — Joe Castro, Fresno State
- Pac-12 — Kirk Schulz, Washington State
- SEC — Mark Keenum, Mississippi State (chair)
- Sun Belt — Jack Hawkins, Troy
The second group will determine the format for 2020, post-season play. Most importantly, they will decide when and in what format there will be a next CFB Playoff. It is far too early to presume what they will decide.
A reasonable expectation for Alabama football fans is that an SEC Champion will compete for a National Championship in a Playoff.
In review, the NCAA is expected to suggest that football training begin around Aug. 1. To accomplish that, a season schedule will need to formalized sometime in July. While the NCAA, universities and Governors are doing those things, the CFB Playoff group will plan a post-season; including contingency plans.