The NCAA never had qualms about putting together a college football regular season on the fly, even if it devolved into a sham. Ultimately the goal was to get to where the real money was: bowl season and the College Football Playoff. Even if a number of ranked teams couldn’t break 10 games played, screw it, that train had to keep moving. After Saturday’s conference title games—well, some of them, anyway—it was time to drop all pretense of safety and maximize that revenue.
On Saturday the CFP committee announced that the Rose Bowl would be moved from Pasadena, California, to the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington, Texas. CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock provided a baldly disingenuous reason for the decision, citing “the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California.”
While California is dealing with a spike in COVID-19 cases, and hospitals in Los Angeles County are nearing capacity, the committee’s claim that it moved the Rose Bowl because the state is too dangerous is bullshit. The move also didn’t happen so that “parents and loved ones will now be able to see their students play in the game,” as Hancock said. California won’t provide an exemption to allow fans at the playoff semifinal, but Texas will let Jerry World bring in thousands of fans like it has been for Cowboys games. Who cares if the game is actually moving to a state in worse shape from the coronavirus? The NCAA certainly doesn’t.
The Rose Bowl shouldn’t have been played in Pasadena, but that’s because it shouldn’t be played at all. College football’s reputation is built on cynicism. Normally it hinges on the idea that allowing an overpaid, megalomaniacal 50-year-old to berate unpaid players is the most noble way to turn them into true adults, but this season it tried to make the case that those overpaid 50-year-olds needed to berate those unpaid players so that the country could show it wasn’t scared of a virus. The season as a whole has felt emptier than any previously vacated win. All of this was only done to satisfy TV deals.
Really, the big winner here is Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, even though on Saturday his team lost to Clemson, 34-10. He doesn’t have to follow through with his very empty threat to boycott the Playoff over the lack of families in attendance, and instead can maintain his reputation as a guy who needlessly endangers college students.