In news that could have an affect on Merrimack’s 2020 football season, the NCAA announced last week that it was recommending a spring playoff for Division I FCS football, beginning on April 18 and concluding on May 21.
Along with its recommendations, the NCAA also said the tournament, which typically consists of 24 teams, would likely be cut to just 16 spots for this season, including 10 automatic bids from conference champions and six at-large bids.
The Northeast Conference is part of Division I FCS.
This schedule likely means a February start to the regular season for most conferences, although the Northeast Conference has not detailed its plan for football yet. Elsewhere around the country, some programs are playing now, along with Division I FBS programs, and the Big Ten just announced today that it was going to restart its season.
For the leagues that hold off, wrapping up a season in time for an April 18 playoff start means seasons would likely have to begin by February.
Given the proposed dates (April 18 is a Sunday), that likely means the first round of the FCS Playoffs would begin on April 24 and a national championship game would be held on May 15.
The NEC is currently in a holding pattern with fall sports and will re-evaluate its status by Oct. 1, the league said in an earlier statement. Merrimack’s next scheduled football game is on Oct. 10 at home against Long Island University. There are also games still on the schedule for Oct. 17 (@ Sacred Heart), Oct. 24 (vs. Virginia Lynchburg), Oct. 31 (vs. Central Connecticut), Nov. 7 (@ Bryant) and Nov. 21 (@ James Madison).