DUCKS FOOTBALL: Recovery from a COVID Season?

Brent Pennington Editorials 61 Comments

Whether or not the Ducks season is saved for an early November start, pushed back to spring 2021, or staggers erratically with fits and starts of games, Ducks Football is likely to suffer a blow from COVID-19 impacts that will take some years to recover from. As hard as it may be for fans to swallow, 2020 sports has entered uncharted territory.

A series of cataclysmic disasters in Oregon and the nation will reshape college sports. The COVID-19 pandemic and devastating fires burning across the west have caused repeated body slams to state and federal budgets, as the governments grapple with the costs of healthcare, relief packages, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits and a myriad of rebuilding programs. These long-term negative effects will have a lasting impact on college football.

Protests, social movements and the character and values of Generation Z are cracking the shell and foundation of the NCAA.  Athletes are uniting to demand compensation and benefits from the massive revenues generated through college sports’ media packages, as well as increased safety and protection.

Amazing Moments Photography

Carson York injured at a previous Rose Bowl.

Some athletes, with more soon to follow them, are raising support for insurance protection against injuries and latent prolonged negative health ailments related to their time on the playing field and in gyms and practice fields during their time in college athletics.

This is only the beginning of those movements, but in time the athletes will prevail and win protection, power, and compensation. The NCAA will be forced to negotiate and agree to remedies.

Where will Oregon football stack up in the rebuilding priorities of government officials, university presidents, administrators and fans? College football is part of our American constitution and cultural fiber, but how will football and society respond when things become scrambled and the going gets tougher with fallout from the catastrophes of 2020?

The PAC-12 has a national PR problem indeed, but its problems run far deeper than PR. There is a leadership crisis, and financial disadvantages compared to other conferences due to the disparity in media revenue receipts. Will leadership effectively respond to the chaos, or will the other conferences with fewer non-football issues widen their advantages over the PAC-12?

Kevin Cline

Will Oregon football change like the helmets?

The stage is far from set. Much is new and changes every day. There are many factors in play here that will have lasting effects over the next decade and beyond. Will the fans in this sea of change be resilient and return when college football normalizes again, or will there be latent effects from the changed world and the interruptions to college football as we have known it in the past?

The NBA lockout of 2011 is an example of an interrupted sports season. The strike was described by Sean Gregory of TIME as “a revolting tapeworm” eating away at the season. COVID-19 and other 2020 events might be viewed the same way. Gregory further wrote ”Mayors from 14 NBA cities recently penned an open letter to NBA commissioner David Stern and players union chief Billy Hunter, imploring them to end the lockout … Lost in the debate over a new NBA collective bargaining agreement has been the perspective [of city] residents and the negative impact a cancelled season might have on them, our cities, and our local economies.”

The same will someday be said about losses to Ducks football.

The list of victims of interrupted seasons is wide and varied. The 1994 and 1995 MLB strike effectively ended Michael Jordan‘s pursuit of a career in major league baseball.  The delay of games was the demise of the Montreal Expos, putting them out of business. There was no World Series played, and a bevy of players’ advancing personal milestones were denied by the stoppage of games; Tony Gwynn, Matt Williams and Ken Griffey, Jr. among them.

Kevin Cline

Some fans get turned off by the actions of others … and players.

USA Today reported that “by the time 1995 rolled around, the strike gave players an option they never had before — early retirement.” When scheduled play resumed the fan base had declined by more than 20 percent.

These are different circumstances, but will the result be similar? MLB did not play a full season of scheduled games for two years. Might college football experience the same?

Our hopes as Ducks were fueled again this week, but not all the haze in the air is smoke. Storm clouds are building.

A big one is coming.

Brent Pennington
Greenville, South Carolina
Top Photo by Truong Nguyen

Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.

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30Duck

Justin Herbert started the game for the Chargers and ran in for a touchdown on the opening drive!

Haywarduck

Justin looked like a future pro bowler, well done!

BigDucksFan

Off subject: Scott Frost of Nebraska is now going to play football but he is still unhappy. Nebraska is playing five AP preseason top 25 teams. Ohio State is playing two.

Annie

Well, Scott have known “be careful what you ask for.” :)

Jon Joseph

And opens at tOSU. LOL!

BTW, how badly would the UCF team that posted a big win at Georgia Tech yesterday light up the Cornhuskers?

The SEC protected Bama and screwed Arkansas with the 2 add on games. Why would Frost expect anything different when it comes to the B1G and Ohio State? Especially, after calling B1G commish, Kevin Warren, everything but a red headed step child.

Nebraska is the only B1G school that is not a member of the Association of American Universities. If as it threatened, Nebraska returned to the B12 I doubt if anyone in the B1G would give a whip?

BigDucksFan

Oh how the world turns.

Drake

Who would want to be an AD at many of the PAC 12 schools today? Trying to appease alumni, school officials, NCAA, and student athletes while trying to plug holes in budgets that are being marked with huge amounts of red ink…have fun with that job.

Jon Joseph

Yet, the new Prez of Oregon State left LSU to take the job. How can this guy who has Greg Sankey to compare with Larry, accept Larry’s BS?

Any one of these Pac-12 head person jobs is a huge ‘get’ for any college administrator.

Jon Joseph

A sobering, Sunday morning take from South Carolina. Thanks, (I think) Brent.

The day big time college athletes get paid by their school and become university employees is the day that many schools will kiss athletic scholarships goodbye.

Individual NIL income paid by a 3rd party is one thing. Profit sharing as proposed by Pac-12 dissident football players, is another.

Obviously, no school will be able to ‘share’ 50% of revenues let alone profit with the players. This was an immature, senseless ‘demand’ of dissident players who threatened to go ‘on strike.’ Universities are far more likely to ‘go on strike’ and require the players to pay tuition.

Frankly, I think a number of Pac-12 ‘leaders’ would be happy to be the Ivy League West.

B1G fans, coaches, ADs, players and parents went bonkers when the season was canceled. Out west, you could have heard a pin drop.

Mario is the best recruiter in CFB. A guy like Gus Malzahn is being paid close to $7M a year. The Ducks is going to come up with the $ to keep Mario? It has been a long time since a Pac-12 team paid money to a sitting, successful P5 football coach to leave his school and come coach out west.

The Pac-12 as a whole does not have the $ to compete in CBB and CFB. And comparatively, when the new media rights deals are done, it will be worse.

BTW, Michael Jordan’s baseball career ended the 1st time he saw, or more correctly failed to see, a major league curve ball.

Thanks for the hard hitting, honest evaluation.

BigDucksFan

Right now it definitely seems like the Pac-12 is on the losing end of things as a conference. Thanks to the conference leadership which have run it into the ground rather than making good decisions to keep it afloat and in contention.

Will the Pac-12 be as relevant during the next 5 years as it has in the last 5 ??

Jon Joseph

Tune in to media negotiations in 2024. This will be big tell as to whether the conference can be competitive; whether USC will go independent; etc.?

BTW, with 10 public institutions in the mix, why did we not learn what ESPN offered for the conference media rights and taking over the operation and marketing of the bust of a network? Return to play? Great. But how many folks if they care, will be able to watch the Pac-12 play on its network.

You cannot simply blame Scott. Scott’s bosses have significantly contributed to this mess.

30Duck

Scott’s bosses are certainly complicit in mess that is the Pac-12; how the fans and the press could see and raise the alarms on how Scott had mismanaged the conference, and the President’s show no cognizance of the concerns is alarming.

BigDucksFan

You and Jon are right. It starts with the President’s and chancellors, then goes down to Scott. One would think that the top level would have seen what Larry was or was not doing but for some reason they are not doing anything about it. This begs the question: why ??

Media negotiations will be the straw that breaks the back. Right now I don’t see how anyone can overcome that hurdle.

Larry Scott missed his opportunity with not getting an ESPN buyout of the Pac TV network.

30Duck

That decision, to reject ESPN is just the dumbest move any business executive has made. How could any rational person look at the two options Larry had and make the choice he did. Hubris isn’t adequate to describe what drove Larry; and the lavish offices are evidence.

Last edited 1 month ago by 30Duck
BigDucksFan

Hard to say what goes thru Larrys head.

Haywarduck

Jon you nailed it on how the Pac-12 is starting to be viewed and may view itself as far as athletics. Are we becoming the Ivy League west in athletics? Great question, and it hits on how this will impact the Pac-12 with the losses in revenue.

After Larry’s impact we may have no other direction to go than out of the Pac-12, or more of an Ivy League model.

Annie

OT, but the picture of the guy with the noose around the toy CAL bear, reminds me that someone asked when The Duck started doing pushups after touchdowns. I don’t remember when, but I do remember that the why was to distract from that guy beating whichever toy mascot into the concrete after each touchdown for however many points the Ducks had in the game by then.

BigDucksFan

Ouch

Charles Fischer

Brent, you hit a nerve with a ton of us. I have noted many that comment here state that they are on the verge of checking out of being a fan altogether, and I am receiving emails reporting the same.

The players want more, but how can that be funded when we end up with 20% fewer fans to pay the freight?

Indeed. It is a big-storm coming, and will be the last straw for many who have been faithful fans.

Haywarduck

I have to say the ‘revolting tapeworm,’ in this mess, is Lazy Larry. If this doesn’t lead to the end of Larry, the end of the Pac-12 is near.

I also think the players are feeling it. If I was a player, and saw all the other leagues playing on Saturday, I would want to go where I could play. Pittman is the tip of the iceberg of players wanting to play this season.

You bring up a great point on the financial impact the delay, cancelation of this and any other seasons will have. We have only touched the surface of the impact of this.

duckcardinal

Am missing on the Pittman reference. Is this as a spokesman, or is there a transfer situation brewing?

Haywarduck

It isn’t just Pittman who wants to play and feels helpless with Lazy Larry and others pulling the strings or not on the season.

If the Pac-12 moves toward the Ivy League in how they view sports, look for players to look elsewhere to play at a high level.

https://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/2020/09/oregon-ducks-receiver-mycah-pittman-joins-pac-12-players-demanding-conference-start-football-season.html

BigDucksFan

You raise some interesting questions Brent, and I think your right about “Storm clouds are building. A big one is coming” and not all of it is caused by COVID-19.

Two things I would like to comment about.

First is I think the Pac-12 leadership deserves much more credit for the situation the Pac-12 is in right now than you give it blame for. Good leadership at the top could have prevented some of the deep gouges we are now going through and those that we will see more of in the future. Better decision making on behalf of Larry Scott, the presidents and chandlers could have provided the Pac-12 with less impact from some of the problems that are popping up now. Less high class spending and waste on behalf of our conference leaders and more beneficial decisions could have had the Pac-12 conference in a much better position to weather the storm then it is in now.

Second is that there is a lot of general public unrest out there that is contributing to the college football interruptions that is not mentioned in your article. The general public (and the players) are getting very tired of the antics of the NCAA and want change. Change that has been needed for decades but have not come. Also the general public (and players) are tired of the favortisim and control that TV and ESPN have on the the operation of college football and basketball, the big money it dotes out every year and the control over the school programs that it demands from the conferences in return for it.

Like it or not college sports is heading into “the perfect storm” and the Pac-12 is on the verge of a collapse.

Last edited 1 month ago by BigDucksFan
Jon Joseph

FYI, an informed source has reported that Stanford is adamantly opposed to playing ball in 2020 and USC has informed the Pac-12 that it needs to play without Stanford. If the Cardinal continues to demure and the conference doesn’t play, SC intends to find a way to play.

But, it’s all good in Larry land.

Your take that the conference is ‘on the verge of a collapse’ is spot on. You BDF and a number of us on this board, have seen this coming for the last couple of years.

I’m not certain where the current chairman of the board, Oregon’s Michael Schill, stands on the matter? I am certain that not playing will have an affect on recruits actually signing on the bottom line. And also likely will have an affect on Mario wanting to stay in Eugene.

Oregon needs ‘partners’ who want to compete at the P5 level.

BigDucksFan

Wow, USC is pushing its weight around. Interesting that you mentioned it could go freelance. I wonder whats up with Stanford (why ??).

Finding partner’s who want to compete at the P5 level is easy, finding partner’s in the Pac-12 who can play at the P5 level is difficult ($$$$).

This just in: Justin started the game today for the Chargers.

Tandaian

Stanford’s reasoning according to them, was 100% medical. They didn’t think it was safe to play.

BigDucksFan

Interesting, thanks for that

Jon Joseph

Hats off to JH! Hope he gets the W.

30Duck

Oregon, USC to the B1G or Big 12 as soon as they can. Mario looks like he really wants to make it work at Oregon, but if it continues like this who could blame him, or the players for wanting to be at a school that has a chance of winning a championship?

BigDucksFan

You got it.

Charles Fischer

There are many of us who do NOT want change, and are sick of hearing about it. If things are changed dramatically, thousands of female athletes will lose scholarships and thus so many professionals will not get their start in their education. This affects our society, growth of the family structure and our economy.

Meanwhile football players have a benefit package worth almost two million, and they want more?

It is going to be very hard to create a better system, and this fight is going to turn a ton of fans off.

Last edited 1 month ago by Charles Fischer
Jon Joseph

No matter what else happens, NIL will be approved. If NIL had been in place, Sabrina is one of the female athletes who would have made bank.

Charles Fischer

Another Red-Herring.

While I have reservations about the impact on teams of the NIL….that is not what I am referring to.

BigDucksFan

Yes, the football players have a nice benefit package but it pales in comparison to what the same players bring into the schools. They also have expressed that the waste and mismanagement of this moneys brought into the schools because of them is a concern. Example: over 5 million dollars a year given to Larry Scott each year for his incompetence, a Pac-12 TV channel that drains money from the schools, lack of lifetime compensation for lifelong injuries received from school sports. Also some of these players would like to go out and get a part time job while at school in order to help at home or even to buy personal things for themselves. A new walkman maybe or toothpaste, but they can’t because it’s against the rules. A lot of these players come from economically disadvantaged households and helping at home can make a difference for their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers.

Like it or not changes are coming. It would be better to get with the program and help steer these changes in the right direction instead of fighting them to the last man. Remember college sports is no longer amateur sports, it’s a money making business which right now makes big bucks for those in charge of schools and conferences (just ask Larry Scott). $5 million a year can buy a lot of scholarships for female athletes, so maybe some redistribution of the wealth is needed (yes changes).

Like it or not changes are coming.

Last edited 1 month ago by BigDucksFan
Jon Sousa

Yes, changes are coming….

But will they be adjustments??

Or will they be a total tearing down and rebuilding from scratch??

I don’t see Charles’ comment as against turning the ship several; I see them as not wanting to blow up the ship to build a new one.

The NCAA makes small adjustments every year. Larger adjustments are coming (like NIL). The question is, how dramatic/catastrophic will they be?

BigDucksFan

Hopefully the changes are adjustments but the right adjustments. Giving the football players less homework or another pair of sneakers is not the kind of adjustment thats needed. Cutting back on the waste of the money by the leadership is. If good adjustments had been made along the way a dramatic one would not be needed now. But there wasn’t any.

Charles Fischer

Not a way to convince me… You will kill the Golden Goose for womens athletics.

BigDucksFan

The golden goose is the $5 million plus per year that Larry Scott is making.

Charles Fischer

That is a Red-Herring, BDF. Anyone who has seen my support of removing Larry, or lowering his income knows that my concerns revolve around the lack of a plan to replace what we have, into something that is for certain better.

Tweak what we have? Sure. Turn the system upside down? THAT is killing the Golden Goose.

(The fans are what create the Golden Goose, and that is Brent’s point today.)

Last edited 1 month ago by Charles Fischer
BigDucksFan

Just lowering the income for Larry Scott, will not correct his decision making. He has made bad decision after bad decision over and over. Keeping Larry Scott on the payroll would be the wrong thing to do at any salary.

The problem with just tweaking the existing system is that in the past tweaking has not taken place at times when it should have. How many years do we have to live with Larry Scotts lavish living off of the schools of the Pac-12. This has been known for years but no tweaks took place to correct it. (year after year) Their has been plenty of times to “tweak” the system but it never took place. Someone is preventing “tweaking”, my guess is it’s those who make the most money off of the existing system. They are the ones who want to keep the status quo. They are the problem.

If we had good leaders running the Pac-12, the Pac-12 would not be this deep in the quicksand it is now.

It’s time to clean house now or watch the Pac-12 collapse.

30Duck

Brent, earlier you asked me what changes I would like to see? Well, you answered the question yourself. Your first point is the key, as the rest of them would all be part of the modernization.

BigDucksFan

I love it all

Now thats what I’m talking about. That right there is leadership.

Thanks Brent.

Jon Joseph

BDF’s comments are spot on. Why was a guy with no left coast ties and ZERO experience with football and basketball hired in the 1st instance? How has this spendthrift stay hired?

And you are also spot on in noting that the survival of the conference is most definitely at at stake.

30Duck

Great article Brent, and BFD, I agree with your points. A change in how the NCAA operates is hardly a bad thing. It has operated since the ’70’s as though it still is the 70’s, an ironic combination of complacency mixed with an aggressive stance to not adapt to the changing environment of college sports.

In no area of college sports was the change more significant than in the broadcasting of the games and how ESPN became the overlord of college football, and of course it can’t be overstated what a complete joke, Larry Scott has been has the Pac-12 commissioner.

He was bad enough before the 2020 crisis; while the B1G worked behind the scenes during the postponement, Scott and the Pac-12 were caught by surprise when the B1G announced that it would be restarting the season, it’s schedule is set and the teams are practicing getting ready to play on Oct.24. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 is off to a bumbling, disjointed start, that according to reports, has coaches and AD’s extremely frustrated, along with the fans. ESPN doesn’t care. A meeting of The Duck and Ohio State’s Nut would have been great on, “Gameday” but, que sera, sera.