A motley assortment of fans, media members, commissioners and athletic directors from 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences convene in a mansion on an isolated island at their gracious host’s request. That island is the fall of 2020 and the host is the college football season, though it seems to be absent from the party.
Already full of trepidation regarding their strange, ominous surroundings, the guests wonder where their summoner is when tragedy strikes — the Mid-American Conference is found dead.
The horror continues when the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West share the MAC’s grisly demise, picked off one by one.
Now, trapped in a gothic manor with waves of coronavirus cases crashing against the nearby shore, the remaining guests are left to speculate who could be responsible for this string of ghastly deeds before their own favorite teams fall victim to an unseen assailant.
Naturally, suspicion first falls upon conference leadership, whose fingerprints are all over the murder weapon. However, like any good whodunnit, this plot is entangled in coercion.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren carried out the dirty work, but why? Who made him do it?
This is a question the college football world has pondered ever since it stumbled across the corpse of the MAC.
Early suspicion was that the media, which had long been forewarning the season’s cancellation, had finally made their visions a reality. If prominent figures like Kirk Herbstreit expressed doubts early on, could his pessimism have given the powers that be itchy trigger fingers?
Herbstreit may eat 24-karat frosted gold flakes for breakfast, but most others in his profession aren’t quite so well-endowed. Do conspiracy theorists think local sports journalists sit in their studio apartments, twirling their mustaches and laughing maniacally while they contemplate how many different meals they can make using ramen noodles and peanut butter?
If writers and pundits were in fact the killers of the college football season, doing so was an act of monetary suicide.
What about athletic directors?
After all, leagues are nothing without the universities that comprise them. Perhaps commissioners felt pressure from their constituents and caved in.
The optimist in me says athletic directors wanted to pull the plug out of concerns for students’ safety despite imminent financial losses. Then again, maybe they concluded the cost of forgoing the season would be less than the price of future class-action lawsuits from players who suffered from coronavirus as a result of competing.
There’s still one suspect yet to be interrogated. A quiet, unassuming attendant with ostensibly no control over the premature fate of the departed. We’ve ruled out the red herrings, leaving just one possible mastermind — the fans themselves.
How can the audience be guilty, you ask? Well, when you consider the sport has over 100 million viewers nationwide, you realize how lethal they are. The perfect crime is one with no discernable perpetrator, and how do you indict an entire society?
Hasty reopenings, lack of social responsibility and a sprinkling of super-spreader events are all part of a master plan months in the making. In a mad rush to insist everything was normal, we suffocated our beloved college football in the ultimate crime of passion.
Fans have treated the search for a culprit as if it were an Agatha Christie novel, too blinded by emotion to see the story unfolding was closer to “Fight Club.” We truly are our own worst enemy.
I will dearly miss college football, but I no longer need the Iron Bowl or The Game. When it comes to contests between hated foes, there’s no more heated rivalry than Americans versus themselves.