A 14-week football playing season will be examined by the Division I Football Oversight Committee, the NCAA announced on Friday.
Currently, Division I football plays a 13-week season with one weekend off. In years when there are 14 Saturday’s between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, football plays a 14-week schedule with two off weeks.
The last 14-week season was in 2014, and the next is in 2019. After that, the calendar doesn’t allow for a 14-week schedule until the 2024 and 2025 seasons.
A permanent 14-week regular-season schedule would, as previously mentioned, afford each football program two off weeks during the season rather than just one.
Last season, the NCAA approved a rule exception that allows Hawaii and teams that play at Hawaii to begin their playing season on the Saturday prior to Labor Day weekend. In essence, a few programs have been granted a 14-week season to play 12 games (or 13 if they play at Hawaii and choose to add an additional game).
Below is the full next of the current NCAA rule on beginning of the playing season:
17.10.3 First Contest. [FBS/FCS] An institution shall not play its first contest (game or scrimmage) with outside competition in football prior to the Thursday preceding Labor Day.
18.104.22.168 Exception—Institutions That Compete in Hawaii. [FBS/FCS] An institution that is scheduled to play a regular-season game in Hawaii may play its first permissible contest with outside competition on the Saturday prior to the Thursday preceding Labor Day. If the institution’s first opponent of the season is not a member institution located in Hawaii, the institution’s first opponent of the season may also play its first contest (game or scrimmage) with outside competition on the Saturday prior to the Thursday preceding Labor Day.
22.214.171.124 Exception—Nationally Televised Contest—Championship Subdivision. [FCS] In championship subdivision football, an institution may participate in a nationally televised (broadcast or cable; not Internet only) contest against a nonconference opponent during the weekend (Saturday-Sunday) before the Thursday preceding Labor Day. Participation in such a contest is limited to one institution per conference per year. An institution that participates in such a contest for two consecutive years may not participate in such a contest in the following year.
A 14-week season on a regular basis could cause problems around college football. Preseason camps may need to start earlier, and playing dates for end-of-season rivalry games and the Army-Navy game could be affected.
Even though the NCAA is just beginning their discussions on the matter, many coaches in the SEC have already expressed their dislike for the 14-week season.
“Our coaches had concern about the notion of going to a 14-week football schedule on a regular basis that causes the start of the regular season to be earlier,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told the Montgomery Advertiser last month. “We obviously have 14-week schedules built into the regular season on a regular basis with the Labor Day start and the conference championship game but the question was in years where that’s not the fact, should we start a week earlier.”