Like many Big Ten coaches, Purdue's Jeff Brohm was disappointed and angry upon learning the league had postponed the fall football season. He channeled those emotions into crafting a detailed plan for a spring season.
Brohm's proposal outlines an eight-game season beginning Feb. 27 and finishing April 17, with postseason play wrapping up by May 15. He also outlines a slightly truncated fall 2021 schedule that would feature 10 games and begin Oct. 2 after a four-week training camp. Both plans include playoff options of four or six teams.
"When it got canceled, it was heartbreaking," Brohm told ESPN. "You feel for guys that have worked their whole lives to get a chance to play football, and now they don't have that. It made me angry, and it made me want to just do something about it. That's why I put this together."
The players' health is the main concern with potentially playing two seasons during one calendar year, and that shaped Brohm's thinking. His plan significantly reduces padded, contact practices over a two-season stretch -- from 114 to 52 for teams not participating in bowl games, and from 144 to 64 for teams that reach bowls -- and includes three months off after the spring 2021 season. Teams would be allowed only one padded practice per week during the season.
Brohm notes that in the normal schedule, teams that play bowl games begin winter workouts just weeks later and start spring practices (almost all contact workouts) two months later.
"I was able to play in the NFL years ago; when I was with the 49ers, there were numerous years where once we started the regular season, we didn't practice in pads," said Brohm, a former quarterback in the NFL and XFL. "So there's ways to take care of your guys. You're going to have plenty of time to get yourself ready. Even during the season, I think you have to limit the amount of padded practices you have. I think one full padded practice is going to be reasonable.
"To me, taking care of the body and the collegiate athlete is the most important thing. I just wanted to prove that there are ways to get that done and still be able to allow football to be played this [school] year at some point."
Brohm also examined the number of games over a normal two-season span and compared it with his proposal. Teams not playing bowl games currently average 1.6 games per month (24 games in 15 months). Under Brohm's plan, those teams would average 1.8 games (18 games over a 10-month span). Teams that reach the national championship game would increase from 1.875 games per month to two games per month in Brohm's proposal.
Brohm's spring 2021 schedule includes two options for Big Ten teams, including a plan shared by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh when discussing the fall 2020 season that included a seeded game to help determine a league champion. The Purdue coach also factored in weather, noting that teams in the Big Ten's northern footprint would open with two road games against teams located farther south.
"You can go play in some domes, maybe that's a possibility, but trying to find a way to play on college campuses and get back to a normal college atmosphere," Brohm said. "The weather will continue to improve throughout the spring and you're able to play games, and get fans in the stands, and get things on TV, maybe even have a championship at the end of it. I just think our seniors deserve the opportunity to play."
Brohm opposes allowing midyear freshman enrollees to be eligible for a spring 2021 season, an idea Ohio State coach Ryan Day advocated on Wednesday. But Brohm is open to sharing ideas with his conference coaching colleagues now that the spring season, for months described as "the last resort," is the only option for this school year.
"This isn't a perfect plan, but it will prove that it can be done if people are willing to make sacrifices," Brohm said. "I wish we all could have been in conjunction as Power 5 conferences and done what was best for all, whether it was continue to play or back the season up or cancel. The fact it's just a few of us right now, we have to find a way to make this work. It's important we all put our thoughts together and do what's best for college football and our student-athletes. I've been working on it nonstop. It just got fully done early this morning.
"I'm going to share it with anybody who wants to look at it."