PREAMBLE: Welcome to Moon Crew, a newsletter/etc. project by some of the people behind such products as EDSBS, SB Nation, Banner Society, the Sinful Seven, the Shutdown Fullcast, Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody, the Vacation Bible School Podcast, the annual Charity Bowl, This American Life, and so forth.
For now, we’re Spencer Hall, Richard Johnson, Jason Kirk, and Alex Kirshner. This logo is by our friend Tyson Whiting.
This newsletter will aim to publish at least twice a week. It’ll often revolve around college football, but not always. It’ll be free for the time being, with no known asterisk attached to “the time being.”
Moon Crew is also part of the Business System helping to bring you the return of the Shutdown Fullcast, likewise free, because the internet’s only college football podcast is truly priceless.
We’d also like to do/make other stuff for you. We’ll see about all that! Ideas welcome!
We plan to operate based on donations (you can donate over here, if you like), because we don’t like the idea of obligating everyone to commit to monthly dues. We’re also thinking about potential bonuses we could offer boosters (moon term), if you have any suggestions. And we’ll probably take a stab at merch, other versions of the Sinful Seven, and so forth.
Thank you for riding with us. Now here’s the Spencer blog post.
Welcome to day 217 of the 2020 college football offseason.
In a normal offseason, I’d be telling you right now about all the things happening in 10 days or so.
The frogs raining on your roof and the lake of fire in your backyard tell you this is not a normal offseason.
We are all on a plague ship, voyaging through the vast expanse of the Endless Offseason. We’re standing on the foredeck without land in sight or a single voice on the radio to lead the way home.
That sounds grim, mostly because it is. Assuming a spring football season might not happen on such short notice — and if someone can figure out how to play two seasons of impact-heavy college football without ruining both, they should gather the conferences and request a hefty consulting fee for the privilege of sharing this secret — it could be over 500 days between full seasons.
There might be a few conferences playing out the fantasy of a normal autumn, sure, but their mutated 2020 seasons come contaminated by the asterisk of potential cancelation, the asterisk of playing conference-only schedules in a sport that only recently started handing out a semi-real national championship, the silence of partially vacant stadiums, and the general quease of piling even more risk atop the players’ shoulders.
Try it as an experiment. Think about any game that happens in 2020. Without prompting, the brain inserts a little “Oh, that was the COVID season, though.” Nothing feels normal about this, not in any part of our lives, including our diversions — the places we go to feel normal in the midst of so much that’s changing, aberrant, or outright terrifying.
Even in the best case scenario for conferences that might play, it will be a long time until a full college football season.
There are another 375 days or so to go before that, time best spent remembering the one thing the pandemic has taught everyone about college football, and maybe everything else as well:
Almost every rule is completely made up and can disappear overnight.
The pandemic evaporated hundreds of little orders and assumptions about our country, our communities, and us.
It’s all kinds of little and big things, all over the place and all at once.
It turns out being able to order take-out beer and wine did not cause the end of the world.
With kids going to school at home, it turns out data-streaming caps are — whoops! — a fake thing companies conjured to squeeze money out of consumers.
It turns out the government can give money to people without the country instantly turning into Soviet Russia, and that it can help immensely at little relative cost to the taxpayer.
Most shockingly, it turns out at least 30 percent of Americans don’t care about anything at all, including themselves or the people they love. That’s wild, but even the most basic assumption about others — that they don’t want to die or kill you — is out. There are about 90 million Americans whose idea of living is putting on a blindfold, getting behind the wheel of an F-250, and driving as fast as they can without wondering what all the thumping noises are about.
Compared to that horror, college football losing its own imaginary rules seems like nothing.
Spring football, something fans have openly requested for years, is suddenly a possibility at some point.
Schedules made decades in advance and fixed in stone by immortal contracts? Suddenly those are crazily flexible, a matter of a few phone calls between athletic directors who, six months earlier, couldn’t move the payday game against Coastal Carolina for fear the world would topple off its axis and roll through the universe like a misthrown frisbee.
The biggest lie boiled away by the pandemic, though, is college football’s relationship with its labor. After years of false starts by organizers and a general assumption that any kind of college player organization was impossible, players just … did it, time and time again. Since the pandemic took hold, college football players have gotten their coaches marching in Black Lives Matter protests, pushed schools in Mississippi to finally shitcan the Confederate flag, and vocally held administration accountable re: health and safety.
Those feats were an unprecedented flex, even before Pac-12 players put forward a list of demands including half of all conference revenue.
Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and others in the East then started the #WeWantToPlay hashtag, gathering support from a wide array of COVID truthers and others who want football played at all costs. The athletes then play-faked hard, attached to #WeWantToPlay a list that included a call for a players’ association, and posted the agenda at midnight, forcing a whole gang of professional moron rustlers to inadvertently co-sign a version of a college athlete Bill of Rights.
After years of chipping away at the institutions designed to give college players nothing they needed or deserved, a huge chunk of the facade fell the hell off at once.
That’s much of what has happened as of the Endless Offseason’s 217th day. There are, conservatively speaking, another 370 days to go.
There are two ways to look at that vast sea of football nothingness.
The first involves a hefty dose of despair. No one would blame you for diving deep into it. So many things won’t happen because of the Endless Offseason. The next Joe Burrow might not happen. The next Kick Six might have been postponed. For all anyone knows, the most ridiculous play in the history of college football might have been slated for this October.
It’s okay to be sad about it.
Then again, it’s possible to see bright sides. Try it.
LSU might get to hold the championship belt for a whole additional year, and if that means more beads, king cakes, and socially distanced Ed Orgeron parades, that can’t be all bad.
Memphis, Miami (Ohio), Sacramento State, and Austin Peay hold conference titles. Their reigns now extend indefinitely, and there is not a damn thing anyone can do about it.
Without a complete season, multiple teams might claim national titles. Imaginary championships in every direction? That’s not just a side effect of a pandemic. That’s a throwback to the sport’s greatest tradition: Making it up as we go along, then arguing about it forever.
Every loss your team would’ve suffered this season — barring a miracle of science or triumph of ignorance allowing everyone to play full schedules — just got taken off the board. If your team’s losses on Saturdays tend to ruin every subsequent day each week, then congrats: With 2020 pre-ruining each whole week anyway, you’ve skipped a step and gotten straight to the point.
No one has to play Ohio State this year.
Also, Ohio State doesn’t have to suffer their annual bizarre loss, most likely in West Lafayette.
Dreading losing by a field goal to a craptacular 4-7 school in an inexplicable rivalry game in November? POOF. That’s gone now.
Alternatively, if you pulled out a fluky win in 2019 over your rival, you gain a full extra year’s worth of stuntage. UVA’s streak-breaking triumph over the hated Hokies could now age like wine. (And at UVA, that wine’s definitely in their tasteful, Georgian-style house’s cellar.)
No one has to dread playing THAT guy now. The entire Big Ten gets to dodge Prime Justin Fields — especially you, Michigan. Oregon gets to avoid Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, who would have put several FBS players on highlight tape in a very bad way.
If and when the SEC season is canceled, no one has to try and tackle Kylin Hill in the open field. No one has to deal with [gestures in a terrified series of hand motions] Dylan Moses of Alabama. No one has to listen to Gary Danielson lick the windows of the pressbox when Nick Saban walks onto the field. No one! Not a soul!
Hate the concept of a star player’s year getting cut short by injury? Not even a possibility now. Hell, a full season’s wear and tear just got taken off the bodies of athletes who’ve already piled up so much mileage. Rondale Moore, Rashod Bateman, and Micah Parsons get to avoid risking their NFL money due to injury. Sure, we’d like to see them play another year, but life is about more than what we want. And speaking of West Lafayette, we’re not sure anything can top Moore singlehandedly destroying Ohio State in 2018 anyway.
Everyone now has more time for hobbies and scholarship. If college athletics is not about the gentle poet-warrior who can write haiku, fence capably, cook a 14-course Norman feast, and execute a perfect reach block, then why do we call them student-athletes? (Answer: To avoid paying them.)
And just a few months in, players already have more power than they did before, while the NCAA is begging Congress to save what remains.
Finally, there can be more debate about this season than any in the history of college football. If you’re you’re one of those people who likes to say, “Oh, the greatest thing about this sport is DEBATE,” then I have exceptional news for you. This season won’t even exist, and nothing is more debatable than pure fantasy.
If you liked this, maybe subscribe! Maybe follow our Twitter account. Maybe tell a friend about this newsletter, the Fullcast, and/or our positively reviewed Weird West College Football ebook. But definitely have the nicest day you can.
Oh, comments are enabled now. For some reason the default was off
I've been so focused on feeling bad about college football, I've forgotten about everything else. Now that Spencer has made me feel better, I'll get caught up on current events and society as a whole....
Oh. Oh, no. No no nononono