If College Players and Coaches Truly Want to Play, They Don't Need Television

Kyle Koster
G Fiume/Getty Images
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It is extremely understandable that college football players and their coaches want to play the season as scheduled. Setting aside the myriad obstacles and morality of the situation, let's focus on the crux of the #WeWantToPlay argument: that their wants and desires should supersede any data that suggests it's unsafe and a hornet's nest of a liability nightmare for the university. One could look at this as a misguided interpretation of Maslow's Pyramid or an example of how anything bold needs to be pushed across the starting line.

If there's an avatar for the widespread rah-rah bemoaning the fact that fingers might not get the opportunity to dig into mud this season, it's Scott Frost. In an impassioned Zoom call with reporters yesterday, the Cornhuskers' leading man committed to exploring all options, even those outside of the Big Ten. Again, nothing surprising there. And Big Ten fans from other schools shouldn't waste any energy getting upset about being spurned for active pastures — even if Nebraska hasn't exactly lived up to grand expectations when they were welcomed into the conference fold in 2011.

Predictably, in the big business of college football, exploring such a non-traditional route would come with some issues. A large one? The television-rights situation, which is complicated and liquid.

But allow me to ask what is both a serious and extremely snarky question. Why does it matter if the games aren't on television? Don't players and coaches want to do their jobs so badly that they'd do them for love of the game and pure competition, without the trappings of television production? If staying on campus and competing is truly the safest place for them — as was repeated over and over — would it even be ethical to opt not to do just that because of a lighter, non-televised wallet?

And yeah, I am half-asking to be a jerk. The other half really wants to know, though, if teams like Nebraska would play audio-only football this fall as opposed to no football at all. Frost obviously has no problem broadcasting the student-athletes' fair-market value publicly, so it's not like he's prone to shy away from the undeniable fact that some of this is about the dollar signs.

How far would college programs go to play? How many gross vegetables would they eat so they could have the delicious desert of Saturdays between the hash marks? It's worth considering and projecting. Will they put their money-less hands where their mouths have been? I remain skeptical, but then again all bets are off in 2020.

So if Nebraska and any other side pledging to play anytime, anywhere are serious, that setting shouldn't require the bright lights of television cameras. Unless, of course, it's not really all about the purity of competitive football.

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