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MAILBAG: Schedules, eligibility and Malört

We all have a lot of questions right now.

You asked. We answered (or tried to). We have a lot of questions still, too.

@cubsfan57: If football is played in spring, will some of the seniors (Fisher, Ramsey, etc.) opt out to pursue pro ball or other careers?

Lia: Another question that I can’t say anyone knows the answer to, but definitely a crucial part of the discussion. If the NFL Draft remains in April, I think the number of players opting out nationwide will skyrocket. I would expect both Paddy Fisher and Rashawn Slater to do so. Hopefully, the NCAA and NFL can work something out to avoid the conflict, but I’m not optimistic

Eli: I definitely think Fisher and Slater would consider opting out, but some of that decision depends on how the NFL would accommodate a spring season by moving the combine and/or draft. The NFL has reasons for wanting college football to be played, especially for teams and scouts to see players in person and not want to evaluate tape that isn’t 18 months old. So if players are looking to boost their draft stock and bounce back from a subpar year (Fisher), maybe they play in the spring. No doubt in my mind Ramsey would play if there’s a season.

@FakeCoachFitz: Will no NU football mean I go through more or less malort this fall compared to last fall?

Lia: I didn’t feel I was equipped to answer this question without the help of Inside NU’s resident Malört expert, so here’s you go.

Eli: yes.

Mike Deneen: Most (if not all) high schools will eventually have their football season cancelled. How will this impact recruiting, both for this year’s class and in the future? How can coaches identify 2022 and 2023 prospects without game film?

Lia: This is a great question and something the programs are in the process of considering now. When Fitz spoke last week, he expressed his sympathy for the high school seniors, especially, who are going through this and said they will try to be as accommodating as possible. I would assume that NCAA regulations will have to accommodate new ways for coaches to watch players.

Eli: I think a lot of states will try to move their football seasons to the spring, like Michigan did Friday. Of course recruiting will be impacted, and it has been since things shut down in March. For what it’s worth, though, NU has already offered 26 prospects in the class of 2022, so yes they’d want more tape, but they aren’t prevented from having enough of a look at kids from that class. Recruiting staffs may need to rely more than usual on their relationships with high school coaches and local talent evaluators, so you may see established pipelines pay dividends.

@tkowols: What makes more sense medically? Fall football as covid cases spike or two seasons in 12 months?

Eli: If a spring season can happen, you’re comparing two primary medical issues. The fall concern is athletes getting coronavirus, while in the spring it’s more about injuries and durability with another season later that year (since if you’re having a season, you theoretically aren’t as nervous about COVID). Injuries are always a worry, but it’s worth noting players partake in a robust offseason program as is. Purdue’s Jeff Brohm released an intriguing if initial spring and fall 2021 calendar, which drastically reduced the number of padded practices, gave players three months off in the summer and delayed the fall season by a month. I’d hope the conference relies on its medical experts in designing a 2021 calendar as it did in postponing the fall.

Lia: In my opinion, neither makes sense, but if I had to choose, I would say the spring. You’re comparing problems that will face individuals with problems that will face an entire community and country. While injuries are still a major concern for programs, experts have said certain measures can be put in place to limit the likelihood of a spike in injuries following a spring season.

Mike Deneen: What is the timetable for cancelling winter sports? Things aren’t going to get any better between now and November.

Lia: My prediction is that around early October, they’ll announce that college basketball won’t play a nonconference schedule this season and will just begin its conference schedule in January and play a shortened season. I agree that I don’t think things will be much better by November.

Eli: Well the Pac-12 already canceled all athletic activities through the rest of the calendar year, though that’s probably got more to do with the virus’ situation out west than anything else. One thing that’s been talked about more is bubbles, at least relating to basketball. The NCAA NEEDS the Tournament to happen, and they seem to be prepared to do whatever it takes to stage it. People have pointed to late November-December as a perfect timeline to run mini bubble tournaments since students are off campus and they’d normally play then. If this recent football debacle proves anything to athletic directors and conference leaders, it’s that they need to plan proactively. A lot of the feasibility comes down to having more knowledge and better testing technology, the beginning of which may have just come Saturday with the FDA approving a cheap, rapid saliva test.

Katherine Damisch: So...what do normal people do in the fall?

Lia: Trying to figure that out myself...

Eli: I hear there’s a football league that plays on Sundays, and maybe even other days if there is no college football.

@yungdatt: Which QB will benefit the most from the delayed season if there is one?

Eli: I’d think Ramsey, who’d still be the favorite to win the job. It would give him more time to learn the playbook and work with his new teammates.

Lia: I agree with Eli. Ramsey will have more time to learn the playbook and work with the offense while the rest of the team will get a chance to master the new Bajakian-style offense.

@brianphil101: No football and maybe no men’s basketball = massive athletic budget cuts. How do you see northwestern doing this?

Eli: I wish I knew the athletic department’s finances, but the last resort I think for anyone is to cut sports. Even Barry Alvarez, who said Wisconsin could lose $100 million from no football, said after the Big Ten’s postponement announcement he hadn’t yet discussed cutting any sports. Whether that holds is anyone’s guess. NU also has plenty of new facilities to pay for, which I’m sure doesn’t help. The Pac-12 has discussed giant loans, but we’ll see if that goes anywhere.

Lia: I’m really not sure, and definitely concerned about this, but I just hope other sports don’t have to suffer as a result.

@Bobjnorris: When will WaaMu return, and what production will they present?

Lia: I consulted some outside sources and the 90th annual Waa-Mu Show is supposed to take place next spring. They don’t know the title yet because they write the show over the course of the year. However, the annual Dolphin Show this year is Pippin, though.

Eli: See above.

@CBB_Central: When will be the next time I share a meal with Joe McKeown?

Lia: For your sake, I hope as soon as possible.

Eli: Hopefully after women’s basketball beats Maryland.

@dan_olinger: For @karp_eli, how have you dealt with the emotional pain from finishing last in the all time NU football draft?

Eli: That draft feels like it was literal years ago, and any pain then has been overshadowed.