This year’s football season won’t count against the eligibility of any players who participated, which means that this year’s seniors can come back for another season.
“It’s a great opportunity for certain guys,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “I’ve had conversations with players, and that’s an option with certain guys. What I think, what I’ve told players is you never do that unless you’re absolutely excited about not just playing the games but January and February and spring practice and the grind in the weight room and winter conditioning runs. What you don’t want to do is ever see a player return and not be all in. That’s not good for anyone at that point.”
That doesn’t mean Cutcliffe is opposed to the extra year. “I think it’s appropriate with what everyone’s been through,” he said. “It’s going to make things unique, because you forget sometimes that the younger guys are gaining a year too. At the end of their time, if you’re a freshman or redshirt freshman, it’s going to be a unique circumstance to try to count your 85 scholarships. This year, if a guy returns, he doesn’t necessarily have to count in the 85 if he’s a senior. After that, it’ll post back up to 85. So it’s just going to be a unique few years that help us remember 2020.”
The constantly changing 2020 landscape also means that, despite a losing record, Duke might not be completely out of the running for a bowl bid. If teams opt out or are sidelined by outbreaks, bowls may need to dig deep to fill all of their slots.
“It’ll depend on how much of a delay there would be,” Cutcliffe said of accepting a bid. “It goes back to the safety of the players. Obviously, we’d be thrilled. I’m not sure if that’s even a possibility.”
Cutcliffe then caught himself.
“Anything’s possible in 2020,” he said. “Let me just back up. It would again just be the period of time. I’d have to talk to our people as far as protocols and quarantine upon a return when you come back from being away at home.”