NFL wants college football to proceed (but if not would likely move games to Saturdays)

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The NFL is indeed discussing the possibility of playing games on Saturdays in the event that college football doesn’t proceed with a season from September through December. As one source with direct knowledge of the discussions tells PFT, however, the league’s strong preference is for college football to happen, as scheduled.

No college football season or a delayed season (a February-May scenario has been mentioned) would dramatically complicate the NFL’s ability to scout players in advance of the 2021 draft.

“If there were to be no season, then we are going to have to scout off of either these guys’ freshman and sophomore tape only or freshman, sophomore, junior tape if they were going to be a rising senior,” Bills G.M. Brandon Beane recently said on the #PFTPM podcast.

If there’s no college season, some otherwise draft-eligible players may decide to stick around for 2021, assuming that they’d get an extra year of eligibility given that there was, you know, no season in 2020. Others, like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, would likely say “see ya” to Saturday football, even after spending only two seasons there. (On that point, it would be interesting to see whether the NFL and NFLPA agree to extend the artificial three-year barrier to entry into the draft, forcing players like Lawrence to wait another year — and in turn to help college football make up for the money it would have lost in 2020.)

If the college football season plays out from February to May, the NFL would have to delay the draft, which would in turn delay the availability of players to join the offseason program, and which also would dramatically restrict the pre-draft evaluation process. It also would raise a very real question as to whether players who finished a football season in May should be expected to start another one in September.

So the best-case scenario for the NFL entails college football games being played during college football season. But if that can’t happen, the NFL would indeed attempt to backfill Saturdays with games that otherwise would be played on Sundays.

As the source explained it, that most likely would entail making specific games available on Saturdays exclusively via Amazon Prime or ESPN+, with streaming platforms paying a premium for content that would entice zealous NFL fans to in turn pay the premium necessary to watch the games. Those games would be removed from the FOX and CBS Sunday inventory, with the networks receiving a rebate (which would come in handy this year, given reduced advertising revenue) and with the NFL expecting to make back that cash and more via the next wave of broadcast deals.

It’s also possible that the league would expand its in-house Game Pass feature to include live Saturday games, selling the content directly to consumers who would, given the absence of college football, quite possibly fork over the kind of collective cash that the traditional broadcast networks couldn’t or wouldn’t for Saturday games.

However it plays out, don’t expect to see Saturdays play out like Sundays, with free content on three-letter networks (except in the home markets of the teams who play on Saturdays). The broadcast networks simply won’t want to buy those extra games, because it will be virtually impossible to for the broadcast networks turn a profit in the current climate.

None of it matters unless and until it becomes clear that college football won’t happen. Given the factors that make the league confident that the NFL season will proceed as scheduled, it’s reasonable to think that college football would be able to happen, too. And that’s the strongly preferred outcome both for college football and for the NFL.

24 responses to “NFL wants college football to proceed (but if not would likely move games to Saturdays)

  1. Just like the NFL to come up with the best plan tp extract more money from fans, proving once again that sports fans are the best suckers around.

    It is well known that one of the main reason cable and satellite and streaming fees are so high is due to the fees extracted by the leagues from broadcast companies. With sports removed from the airwaves during the pandemic why has there been not one word or mention of a rebate from providers to fans? We are not getting what we paid for. Where’s our money? My god, even auto insurers are refunding fees.

    Once again the NFL proves what a lot of people already think: it’s totally focused on the dollar sign above all interest in its customers or the players who put on the show. It’s greed personified.

  2. Well duh. Everyone wants sports of all kinds to move forwards if it can be done safely, and quite a few who don’t even care about safety just want them back no matter if the cost is people becoming infected.

  3. Play ball, NFL. But it will probably have to be before half or fully empty stadiums, until we have a vaccine.

  4. I don’t think forcing draft-eligible prospects, who are now three years removed from high school, return to college is going to impact the NCAA’s bottom line in any meaningful way. There is plenty of college talent to fill the gap, and the excitement of just getting college football back will provide drive plenty of fan interest.

    In fact, forcing players to return would bring on lawsuits and add further ammunition to idea that college athletes are exploited labor.

  5. You could move Vikings games to Tuesday morning and air them on the Hallmark channel right after reruns of “Blossom”.

  6. 869nh2kji7 says:

    May 3, 2020 at 11:58 am

    …..Once again the NFL proves what a lot of people already think: it’s totally focused on the dollar sign above all interest in its customers or the players who put on the show. It’s greed personified.
    ————-
    Wait so what your telling me is a business is worried about making its profit margin as large as possible? Welcome to the real world and every single business in it, some are just better at it than others.

  7. As far as I know, nobody has ever put a gun to someone’s head and forced them to watch NFL football. If there is a good product, consumers will buy it. For those that hate the NFL, pack a lunch. It might be around for a while.

  8. Saturday games would be awesome. I don’t know how one functions responsibly at work on mondays after being up til midnight Sunday night trying to watch his or her team.

  9. This is all getting very confusing … I think I’ll wait until August rolls around and see what’s what at that time.

  10. I like college football, but prefer watching the NFL. I wish there could be NFL games on Friday & Saturday nights anyway. That would be better than the current Thursday & Monday nights. But I get it. They can’t interfere with HS or CFB.

    As far as there being a college season, I don’t know about that. I don’t see any way to allow athletes on campus if classes are being taught remotely. Imagine if that happens and a player gets coronavirus…talk about lawsuit city.

    It seems like the NFL is doing a decent job of making contingency plans. Of course, they’ve had more time to prepare than other sports. Still, they seem to have been taking a pragmatic approach to this situation.

  11. Of course the NFL wants its free farm system to proceed. Next year’s NFL draft is going to be very interesting.

  12. No way Govenors in NJ, CA, MA, MI, PA & IL will allow games to be played in those States in
    2020.
    I know this comes as a shock to many football fans but the NFL is not the governing body of the United States.

  13. skinsrule2020 says:
    May 3, 2020 at 1:08 pm
    Just hand out masks at the gate problem solved.

    —————-

    Healthcare workers in the front line are having to reuse masks due to shortage and you are suggesting the NFL hands out masks at football games? How would that look?

  14. We have all been duped by a virus hoax. The uncomfortable question is whats the reason behind it.

  15. theitalianarmy says:
    May 3, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    We have all been duped by a virus hoax. The uncomfortable question is whats the reason behind it.
    ————————

    I wish I could tell my friend that she died of a hoax.

  16. It is well known that one of the main reason cable and satellite and streaming fees are so high is due to the fees extracted by the leagues from broadcast companies. With sports removed from the airwaves during the pandemic why has there been not one word or mention of a rebate from providers to fans? We are not getting what we paid for. Where’s our money? My god, even auto insurers are refunding fees.
    ————————————–
    Allstate advertised on National news that they were giving their customers 15% back.
    Well, it’s actually 15% from one monthly payment, not 15% of the annual payment.
    We can lump insurance companies in the same category as the NFL.

  17. theitalianarmy says:
    May 3, 2020 at 8:36 pm
    We should trust our president no matter what. He said hoax i believe him.

    —————————
    Sorry. The President never called the Corona Virus a hoax. Get your facts straight.

    And just a hint for you..
    If you get your “facts” from CNN – you will continue to be misinformed as you are in this point.

  18. If they canceled college football this year could all seniors then opt out their senior year and join the suppplemental draft?

  19. Most students would rather play football if they get a free year of college from it even with the small risk of the virus. If they dont want to they could take a year off and stay home and see if the virus goes away in a year.

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