College Football's Failure of Leadership Has Created a Cancellation Mess

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistAugust 10, 2020

Mark Emmert and the NCAA share in responsibility for a badly mishandled situation in college football.
Mark Emmert and the NCAA share in responsibility for a badly mishandled situation in college football.Matt York/Associated Press

We desperately wanted to avoid this moment. However, the 2020 college football season appears to be crumbling before our eyes.

What has seemed inevitable began happening over the weekend when the Mid-American Conference became the first Football Bowl Subdivision league to postpone fall sports until the spring. On Monday, Orion Sang, David Jesse, Chris Solari and Chris Thomas of the Detroit Free Press reported Big Ten presidents had voted 12-2 to cancel the 2020 football season.

That appeared to be the beginning of the end.

According to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, the Pac-12 "is on a similar path" as the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported the Big 12 is "divided on playing this season."

Brett McMurphy of Stadium shared more insight on the Big 12. A source told him that it's "hypothetically hard but not impossible" for the conference to playfor multiple reasons.

Brett McMurphy @Brett_McMurphy

What about the Big 12? Sources told @Stadium, it would be “hypothetically hard but not impossible” for Big 12 to play if Big Ten, Pac-12 & others cancel fall seasons. Another Big 12 source: “It would be really hard given what ‘some’ of our medical directors are saying"

With every passing minute, the flickering light at the end of the college football tunnel seems to be growing dimmer. 

But, wait, hold everything.

A Big Ten spokesman told Thamel that "no vote has been held by our presidents and chancellors." Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal later reported the Big Ten presidents are scheduled for a 6 p.m. ET call Monday and will make a final decision on the season then.

Despite holding regular meetings over the last five months, the five power conferences are divided on how to move forward.

"[The SEC is] trying to buy time ... to see if the ACC or Big 12 will go along with them" in holding the season as scheduled, Dan Patrick reported on his show Monday.

Greg Sankey @GregSankey

...Deveoped testing protocols...We know concerns remain. We have never had a FB season in a COVID-19 environment. Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying. We support, educate and care for student-athletes every day, and will continue to do so...every day.

Individual schools within a conference are stuck, too.

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg noted most Big Ten programs are awaiting guidance from conference leadership. Total agreement is unlikely. Nebraska's surrounding area is different than Northwestern and Rutgers and so on.

But there is no uniformity across this multibillion-dollar sport in a time that simply demands it.

Given the NCAA's lack of involvement, conferencesand the presidents and ADshad time to create and execute a plan. Instead, the result is a chaotic mess of possible cancellations and "we'll stick it out if you do, but we're not doing it alone, but we're not going to be the last one to cancel, either."

Rather than showing any desire for accountability as the governing body, the NCAA has both distanced itself from decisions and left the hard choices to disconnected conferences.

It's no wonder the players have recently started #WeAreUnited and #WeWantToPlay movements.

Trevor Lawrence @Trevorlawrencee

#WeWantToPlay https://t.co/jvQhE7noGB

Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield expressed his frustration Monday with leadership around the sport, per Eric Crawford of WDRB.

"We're playing with these 18-22-year-olds' minds by some of these leagues doing these things, this yo-yo, saying we're going to do one thing one day and two days later tell them we're going to do this right here," Satterfield said. "That's not leadership."

Players don't know if there will be a season. They aren't sure if their eligibility will be impacted. And they're receiving no answers.

These days, the NCAA is an easy target. It isn't the only group of people at fault in this mangled situation, but the Mark Emmert-led organization has provided little other than suggestions.

"College football leaders, it's very clear, have abdicated the responsibility to explore contingency options," Thamel said. "That's left the sport scrambling."

And scrambling to the bitter end.

We know what's likely coming this week. The frustrating part is watching the news unfold in a random, disjointed way, and any plan for moving forward is as absent as the leadership itself.


Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.