Game Swap. It’s the new game show which might be coming to college football this year. We will have a lot more to unpack about this topic in the coming weeks — maybe even months — but for now, let’s offer a very simple and brief overview of what we are looking at.
Start with Tuesday’s rumors — originating from Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network — that Alabama is exploring the possibility of replacing USC on September 5 in Arlington, Texas, with the TCU Horned Frogs.
We at Trojans Wire are putting this note in (nearly) every coronavirus article we write so that we are transparent about the way in which we present information: This is not a prediction. This is not a policy recommendation to schools. We’re not doing that and don’t want anyone to get the impression that we ARE.
We are just providing information and context, telling you — the reader — that more options are being considered, and/or that more plot twists are now involved in the Rubik’s Cube of figuring out a safe way to play football. We are trying to help you see possibilities — not likelihoods — of how schools and conferences can get the TV money they desperately need to improve their budgetary situations.
One such possibility is the game swap.
No one knows if they will happen, and no one is recommending they definitively SHOULD happen, but as we wrote in the article linked above, it should naturally be discussed as an option. Nothing more, nothing less.
Let’s briefly explain — in a larger context beyond USC-Alabama and TCU-California on Sept. 5 — why game swaps are now a discussion point in college football.
You might have seen on Tuesday that the California state university system is being cautious about allowing students on campus for the fall semester:
The Cal State system affects three FBS football programs in California: Fresno State, San Diego State, and San Jose State. The Mountain West, which houses all three affected schools, made a brief statement in conjunction with the presidents of those institutions. It will appropriately think about what it needs to do next:
You can see that in addition to Alabama potentially replacing USC and TCU replacing California on September 5, the Pac-12 and Mountain West might need to swap games. We will look at these various examples, but let’s start with the one game which seems more imperiled than any other in college football right now:
California at UNLV on August 29.
Why this game and not other Pac-12 games on August 29? To be sure, UCLA’s game against New Mexico State and Arizona’s game against Hawaii — also slated for Aug. 29 — are more imperiled than games on Sept. 5. Yet, if forced to choose which game of the three is most in danger of being canceled or scrapped or swapped out for another game, it’s Cal-UNLV.
The reason is very simple: The Pac-12 team is the road team.
UCLA and Arizona host games on August 29, but the Golden Bears go on the road to the brand-new stadium in Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium. Having to travel out of state in late August — when players might not be ready to get on a plane as a matter of public safety — could become more of a roadblock for a Pac-12 school than for New Mexico State or Hawaii, two programs which might need the game check more than Berkeley does.
San Jose State is scheduled to travel to Mount Pleasant, Michigan, to face Central Michigan on Sept. 5. If we are interested in playing “Game Swap,” the new Pac-12 game show would offer the possibility of San Jose State nixing that Sept. 5 game and offering to play California — probably not on August 29, but on December 5, which is conference championship weekend. Cal gets a home date, SJSU gets a game check.
Again, no one is saying this will happen or is likely to happen, or that the schools involved must do this.
We are merely saying this is an option worth discussing. Sorry if we are repeating ourselves, but in a pandemic, it’s necessary to be very clear.