Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
The NFL will reportedly consider playing games on Saturdays during the 2020 season if the upcoming college football campaign is canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported Thursday the league has held “preliminary discussions” with its broadcast partners about the potential for standalone Saturday games, which would “only” happen if there’s no college football to compete for television viewers.
The Saturday games won’t be listed when the NFL releases its schedule, which is slated for sometime before May 10, but the league is going to leave some “flexibility” in case the additional TV windows become available, per Marchand.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on CBS This Morning last week the league is moving forward under the assumption a season will be played despite the current restrictions in place because of COVID-19.
“But we’re going to be prepared and ready, and we’re planning on playing this fall even though it may be different,” Goodell said.
He sidestepped a question about whether fans will be in attendance, saying: “I think, you know, right now our job is to be prepared for the season. That means keeping our football schedule as best we can—obviously with modifications to make sure we’re doing it safely.”
Meanwhile, an ESPN report Wednesday stated college football officials are “determined to avoid” a complete cancellation of the 2020 season because of the potentially dire financial consequences.
“There isn’t a model I can run to fix the problem of not having any football,” UCF athletic director Danny White said. “I don’t think there’s anybody in my position with a big football fanbase that could make decisions to fix that. I don’t know what happens—there’s not a model, there’s not a solution, there’s not an action I can take that’s going to solve that problem.”
Several conference commissioners told ESPN the “most important” factor is determining whether it’s safe to reopen campuses before the fall semester, a situation complicated by the fact that there are 130 FBS teams from every corner of the United States.
For the NFL, the addition of Saturday games, which already happen late in the year after the college football regular season ends, would put the league on television more than half the week with Thursday, Sunday and Monday contests already on the schedule.