Joe Burrow, better than anyone, understands the significance one season can make on an athlete's future. The No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, Burrow put up decent numbers in 2018 -- his first season as LSU's starting quarterback -- before putting together arguably the greatest season by a quarterback in college football history in 2019. His success last fall resulted in a Heisman Trophy, a national championship for the Tigers and a record-setting rookie contract.
Burrow, who is currently in the midst of his first training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, recently weighed in on college football's current dilemma. On Monday, it was reported that Power Five conference commissioners met over the weekend to discuss the viability of playing the 2020 college football season in the fall amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Mid-American Conference canceled its 2020 season on Saturday, becoming the first FBS conference to do so.
"I feel for all college athletes right now," Burrow said, via his Twitter account. "I hope their voices are heard by the decision makers. If this happened a year ago I may be looking for a job right now."
While nothing has officially been decided, a veteran Power Five athletic director said on Saturday that "it's inevitable" that a season will not be played this fall. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan's football coach since 2015, offered optimism as it relates to the possibility of having a fall football season.
"We have developed a great prototype for how we can make this work and provide the opportunity for players to play," Harbaugh said in a statement. "If you are transparent and follow the rules, this is how it can be done."
Several high-profile college football players are using their platforms on social media to advocate for football to be played this fall, as long as proper protocols are put in place. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a projected top pick in the 2021 draft, is arguing that college football players are "just as much, if not more at risk, if we don't play."
"Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract COVID-19," Lawrence wrote on social media over the weekend. "Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people.
"We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivizes players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we've seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions."
While the 2020 college football season remains in flux, the NFL is still planning on having its regular season begin as scheduled next month. Prior to the start of training camp, the NFL and the NFLPA agreed to a plan that allows players to opt out of the 2020 season if they are uncomfortable with the COVID-19 health protocols put in place. High-risk individuals had the option to opt out and receive a $350,000 stipend, whereas those less at risk received a $150,000 stipend. Players still have the ability to opt out later in the season in the event that a family member becomes sick.
Regardless of what happens with the 2020 college football season, one Power Five athletic director recently said that a decision needs to be made sooner rather than later.
"It's not fair what we're doing to our coaches and student-athletes," the athletic director said over the weekend. "The sooner we can come to a finality, the better."