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Penn State Football: As 2020 Season Shift Looms, So Too the 2021 Cycle

by on May 06, 2020 3:55 PM

It is often forgotten by the casual fan that the college football season is a yearlong endeavor in which games take up a small portion of the calendar.

There is recruiting, summer camps, winter workouts, spring practice and training camp. The amount of time college football players spend on campus is fairly remarkable and one of the more overlooked parts of the "job" when fans consider the relative fame that can come in exchange for a player's efforts.

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming season, the shifting of the football calendar seems all but inevitable (although has yet to change). While plenty can change in the coming months, the lead-up time needed for Penn State to start its season on Sept. 5 only continues to narrow an increasingly small window.

And while it's interesting to consider football starting in October or November, there is the other side of that coin: When the season ends.

This brings us to another thing that is not often talked about. Changing the 2020-21 season will almost certainly impact the calendar for the 2021-22 year as well. Perhaps it's a small price to pay considering the very large and very tangible price that will be paid if the season never happens at all.

"I think at the end of the day you've got to do whatever you can to save this season and worry about the effects of those things and come up with those solutions as the next step," Penn State coach James Franklin said on Wednesday about the football calendar. "So does that mean, if we move this season back that we lose spring ball. I think if people had to choose between losing this season or losing spring ball they'd give up spring ball."

It does make for a unique scenario though, especially when one considers the schedule of other leagues such as the NFL, which is slated to host the 2021 NFL Draft on April 29, with the combine taking place in late February. Would the league shift its own schedule in favor of future prospects or make players opt out of the end of their collegiate season? The shifting of schedules seems more likely, but in an uncertain world, nothing is really off the table.

But in Franklin's eyes the task at hand is getting the 2020 season underway. If that means 10 games, with fans, without fans, or something else, he's fine with it, but the economic stakes of the program, the school and the town are too high to worry about the scheduling conflicts of the future.

"If that means we have to adjust next season back a little bit, I'm not sure," he said. "I guess my point is we've got to do everything in our power to make this work, and be flexible and be open minded," Franklin added "Are there going to be impacts that come from that, that impact other things? Yes, no doubt at all. It'll screw with the recruiting calendar. It'll screw with spring ball. It'll screw with a lot of different things, but again, that's where the next problems come and we have to come up with those next solutions."

Like all things in this strange new world, it's one day at a time, or in this case, one season at a time.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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