It was the only sane thing to do.
Pacific-12 Conference leaders blew the whistle on football for 2020, a grim but desperately needed move in this pandemic year.
Following the lead of its great partner, the Big 10, the Pac-12 has suspended its pride-and-joy and biggest moneymaker rather than risk spreading the COVID-19 virus to campuses from Seattle to Los Angeles, Tucson to Salt Lake City and Boulder.
All sports are off the field, court and pool until January.
Then the folks in charge will take another look at the situation.
At the University of Arizona, sports shut down in addition to football include men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer, gymnastics and volleyball.
It’s a grim and painful decision, but one that had to be made.
Disappointed players, coaches and fans of all the sports will hopefully understand the danger was just too great.
College football is the gravy train for all the sports except men’s basketball, and is our grandest athletic spectacle. But you don’t play games with a deadly virus.
The economic loss at Arizona, Arizona State and the 10 other schools in the conference over losing football revenue will be enormous. Some players will miss out on a shot at the brass ring of the National Football League.
Contracts involving travel, hotels, broadcasting rights, endorsements and all sorts of agreements will be a mess.
But it had to be.
And while it’s hard to think of anything good coming from this miserable pandemic, there may be one:
There’s an urgent need for reorganization of college sports, especially football, top to bottom.
Coaches for the most part are grossly overpaid and there are too many of them on the staffs in the power five conferences, the elite football schools including Arizona and Arizona State.
No head coach is worth two or three million dollars a year, no assistant is worth half a million. If they require that much for their services, let them go pro.
Players providing the entertainment don’t get a dime. Legally.
Yes, they get free tuition, room and board, books, fees and incidental expenses. Maybe that’s enough — it should be if they truly are “student” athletes. And maybe if they require more than that, they should drop out and try their luck in the NFL.
This is just to point out that coaches are often rich as a rajah, and those whom they depend on for success are unpaid.
And while we’re at it, maybe the NFL, which uses college football as its minor league system, should pony up some developmental expenses.
Restructuring the college game is a must.
The whole process needs to be worked over. And college coaches who can’t bring themselves to work for less than a million — up to 12 or 15 million bucks — per year should look elsewhere.
Now is the time to tackle those problems.
College presidents and athletic directors have a whole season to concentrate and come up with a reasonable solution.
Closing the gates on 2020 is a wise move.
It is also an opportunity to bring common sense back to intercollegiate athletics.
When it’s safe to play again.