After what seemed to be a death march of a Monday for the college football season, at least one Group of 5 conference is moving ahead with the 2020 season. The AAC is monitoring the situation, and are making plans on adapting to it.
Now, of course, that situation is volatile and could get worse within the coming week, but for now the AAC is moving ahead with the 2020 season.
The AAC is continuing to move forward with a 2020 fall season after athletic directors met tonight to discuss potential scenarios, sources tell @SINow.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) August 11, 2020
Presidents meet tomorrow, where there is not expected to be a vote, barring significant movement from the Power 5 level.
This has come after a rash of players, such as KJ Sails and Brady White, took to social media to post that they wanted to play. The sentiment extended to coaches, as well, with the likes of USF offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. posting, “#WeWantToPlay.”
We want to play and I believe we will Please don’t take this away from us. pic.twitter.com/X4I32LlnIT— KJ Sails 9⃣‼️ (@KJ2LiVE) August 10, 2020
This movement of players in the AAC is coming on the heels of a similar movement from the Power 5 conferences, which was led by Clemson quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. The language used in the P5 request for safety and scholarship protection is different, but the sentiment is the same. The templates used by the P5 and the AAC are even a near match.
This amounts to the AAC’s players requesting equal treatment from their conference and universities, as is being requested by the P5 players. It’s a movement to say, “Yes, we want to play. However, there are minimum standards that need to be hit for that to happen.”
Those minimum standards are based around scholarship protection for those who do choose to opt out, a seat at the table to discuss how the situation is handled, and universal testing health and safety procedures.
These should be easy standards to meet. Having a representative from players in league meetings doesn’t even come with travel costs in the world of Zoom meetings. Honoring scholarships and eligibility essentially means, don’t change anyone’s status. Again, this is simple in theory. The biggest challenge is coming up with universal health and safety procedures. It’s something that we should have had months ago, but a failure to communicate led to conferences making their own standards.
What players are requesting in this #WeWantToPlay movement is certainly a lot less than what was reportedly being asked by AAC players.
Originating from UCF, where practice was recently stopped due to safety concerns, a document circulated that called for hazard pay and 20% of conference revenue going to players. A lot of the other concerns listed have to do with health and safety concerns, and scholarship protection.
Interestingly, the document also asked for health insurance from injuries and illness from playing, for 5 years after your final season. Now, this would be incredibly expensive for a G5 conference that needs as much income as possible, but it makes sense from the player’s point of view. Injuries and illness can affect you long after you’ve left school, and not every job is going to offer insurance right out of school. Furthermore, many times injuries wouldn’t be covered, counting as a preexisting condition.
It might not be a realistic ask, but if you’re going to try to negotiate, you may as well ask for the moon. Players certainly walk away with less than they have now, because they asked for too much.
However, this document has been widely seen as being a UCF document, and not an AAC movement. The graphic shared by Sails and others more directly fits what is being asked by players as a whole.
Of course, it would be wrong to say every player wants the same thing, but it does seem like most AAC players want to play this season. They want to play, but the conference and universities do need to prove they care about the players more than the bottom line. By not cancelling the fall season, the conference has taken on the obligation of doing more for these athletes. They have a chance to put their athlete’s health first, and prove they care about their players as people. Otherwise, they have no chance of playing in 2020.