Urban Meyer was on the phone with Colin Cowherd on Wednesday, and the two discussed the very-real possibility of a delayed start to the college football season that would result in games being played way later than usual. They then brought up the also very-real possibility that the elite prospects who already know they'll be higher picks in the NFL Draft wouldn't want to play if that was the case.
Cowherd asked Meyer what he thought about suggestions of moving college football to the spring, and said if he were a coach at a blue-chip program like Ohio State, he wouldn't want that to happen because his best players wouldn't play that close to the NFL Draft. Meyer strongly agreed with that sentiment.
"What you just said isn't a maybe, it's a fact," said Meyer. "If you're a potential high draft pick, will you really go put on shoulder pads and a helmet and play college football in January or February? I would say no."
There are a wide range of potential pitfalls in a theoretical plan to start college football in the late fall or winter and play a full season, but this is probably the biggest facing the NCAA. I imagine it wouldn't impact viewers all that much; if this plan had to be enacted in the first place, everybody will be happy enough to have football back that they wouldn't mind a watered-down talent pool on the screen. But for perennial powerhouses, it's a big problem, and they have the most sway with the NCAA when it comes to decisions like this.
The mid-tier prospects would probably play, and schools certainly would not have trouble fielding a team. But if you're Trevor Lawrence, what motivation do you have to suit up and risk injury or poor play two months from the draft for the sake of squeezing in a few extra games? There is none. College football players understand now more than ever how valuable of a commodity they are (and how quickly that value can disappear), which is why many sit out unimportant bowl games nowadays.
It would definitely even the playing field if Alabama or Clemson's best players wouldn't suit up with the long view in mind, but a worsened product on the field isn't an ideal outcome for the NCAA. They may eventually have no choice, but for this reason at least, it'll be their break in case of emergency option.