If the Power Five conferences decide to cancel college football this season, that decision could end up having some major ramifications on the NFL’s schedule for 2020. The NFL has been eyeing the college situation closely and one reason for that is because the league is apparently planning to make some major changes to its schedule if there’s no college football. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the NFL will “likely” add more Saturday games this year if there’s no college season.
To make this happen, the NFL would move several games that were originally scheduled for Sunday and put them on Saturday. One thing that’s not clear is how many games would be scheduled for each Saturday and who would get to broadcast them, however, those are issues that could easily be hashed out before the start of the season if the Saturday games end up happening.
Basically, the cancellation of the college season means the NFL would likely be adding Saturday games in September, October and November. Although the NFL puts Saturday games on its schedule nearly every season, those are always played in late December due to the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961. When that was passed nearly 60 years ago, Congress gave the NFL an antitrust exemption for its broadcasting rights under the condition that the league wouldn’t schedule games on Saturdays during the college football season or on Fridays during the high school football season. If both of those seasons are put on ice, that conceivably opens the door for the NFL to play on nearly any night it wants.
Although it might sound difficult for the NFL to move games from Sunday to Saturday on such short notice, this is probably the one year where it won’t be too hard. One concern with moving games is that it hurts fans, who would have to reschedule flights and re-book hotels. However, since there’s a good chance that fans won’t be in attendance this year — and even if there are, there won’t be a lot of them — it will be a lot easier for the NFL to simply change the day of the game.
Also, the idea of moving games from Sunday to Saturday isn’t a new one. The 2020 schedule actually includes Saturday games in both Week 15 and Week 16 where teams will be flexed from Sunday to Saturday.
If the NFL is trying to figure out the best way to incorporate the new Saturday games into the schedule, one of our editors here at CBSSports.com, R.J. White, actually had a brilliant idea on how to handle it and you can see that below.
Basically, every team that plays on Thursday should have their game from the prior week moved from Sunday to Saturday so that they get one extra day of rest. In White’s example, the Bengals and Browns would play on Saturday in Week 1, which would give them five days of rest before their Week 2 Thursday game (teams playing on Thursday usually get just four days of rest).
This plan would make for some intriguing Saturday games. For instance, in Week 4, the Saturday double-header would be Colts at Bears and Chargers at Buccaneers. If the NFL uses its normal Saturday schedule that it has used for regular season games in the past, the games would kickoff at 4:35 p.m. ET and 8:15 p.m. ET.
Of course, none of this will happen unless the college football season gets canceled and it’s still not clear how everything is going to shake out. Over the weekend, CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd reported that multiple Power Five athletic Director’s told him that the cancellation of the season felt “inevitable.” Despite those comments, none of the Power Five conferences had officially announced any sort of cancellation as of Monday afternoon. For the latest on what’s happening at the college level be sure to click here.