The Big 12 Conference became the latest to declare it will proceed as planned with the 2020 season Wednesday, following in the footsteps of the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference's Tuesday announcements.
They'll move forward without the participation of the Big Ten and Pac-12, but in the event there is a significant change to college football's schedule at large, the NFL will be accommodating, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The Big Ten and Pac-12 both announced intentions to attempt a spring football season in 2021.
"One thing that is very clear from talking to several NFL officials and high-ranking members of different teams, the NFL is going to do what it can to accommodate college football and basically help guide them through this and help adjust their own schedule to make sure it works for all sides," Rapoport said during an appearance on Good Morning Football ahead of the Big 12's Wednesday announcement. "For instance, if there are things in the NFL calendar that need to be moved or shifted around to help college football play in the spring, if that's what they decide to do. Surely that is something that the NFL is more than willing to do. They know pretty well how big of a part of them college football is."
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most teams weren't planning on sending scouts out on the road anyway, per Rapoport, meaning there is an incentive for the NFL to accommodate and support a shift to spring in order to best allow its clubs' personnel officials to complete their evaluations.
There also likely will not be the usual slate of college all-star games, especially if the majority of college football plays in the spring, removing another key part of the scouting process that often sees overlooked players gain significant recognition ahead of the draft.
The NFL Scouting Combine would likely shift, and the draft itself can be moved up to as late as June 2, according to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, before the NFL must renegotiate things with the NFLPA. Such a possibility is very much on the radar of the league, per Rapoport, though an incredibly quick turnaround for rookies might devalue draft picks in a collateral result of a schedule shift.
As for the NFL's schedule in the meantime, the league is prepared to take regional Sunday games and move them to Saturday afternoon and/or evening slots (4 p.m. ET and prime-time, for example) in the event the bulk of college football isn't available to fill those slots, per Rapoport. These changes would not only increase the NFL's already-massive stage, but also could potentially bring in more television revenue, which could go toward helping the 2021 salary cap and the anticipated shortfall stemming from the pandemic, Rapoport added.
Plenty remains in play as the sports world awaits to learn the fate of college football in 2020. The NFL is prepared no matter the outcome.