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How economics, COVID-19 could impact college football in 2021

Pete Thamel, Yahoo Sports Reporter joins Yahoo Finance Live to break down the Rose Bowl game moving to Texas for the first time and weigh in on the biggest college football coach hirings & firings in 2020.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back. For the first time in the modern era, the Rose Bowl will not be played in Southern California. Following in the footsteps of Elon Musk and thousands of people fleeing California for Texas, this year's Rose Bowl will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. That, of course, being where the Dallas Cowboys play. Rose Bowl officials appealed twice to have families of the players in attendance and were denied due to lock down restrictions currently in place in California.

Joining us now for more on that and more is Yahoo Sports reporter Pete Thamel here. And Pete, I mean, this is kind of the case that we've seen play out all year in sports. You know there are impacts here in the pandemic and a lot of people didn't want to see this played in California where we're just talking about hospital capacity hitting 0%. So how big of a deal is this and how much pressure is on the NCAA as they roll this out?

PETE THAMEL: Well the bowls actually have nothing to do with the NCAA itself. So the bowl system is its own separate entity and college football is a bizarre sport. They actually outsource their most valuable product and the bowls profit off that. It's a really unique, antiquated arrangement, quite frankly. In this specific case with the Rose Bowl, essentially there was enough families who spoke out and really Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly just lambasted the idea that these kids should be playing in a playoff game where it was safe enough for them to travel and play there but not their families.

And it was really just a-- a really bad optics by the Rose Bowl and they got bullied into giving up the game in Southern California. The first time since 1942 when the game was played at Duke, right in wake of World War II starting, that the game is not being played at the actual Rose Bowl.

AKIKO FUJITA: So Pete, I can say as a Pac-12 fan myself, I am one of those Rose Bowl purists. But it's going to be interesting to see how the game plays out. You know, outside of Pasadena. Meantime, those teams that are not playing right now. We've got the coaching carousel, as usual, in the off season. A lot of the coaches that have resigned or have been fired have already been replaced. But what do you think is sort of the biggest prize out there right now?

PETE THAMEL: So I really think the biggest prize got filled last week, and that was the job at Auburn University. They paid more than $20 million or will have to pay more than $20 million, to fire coach Gus Malzahn. That includes a $10 million, they call it a poison pill, within 30 days from his firing. He got fired about three weeks ago. So amid a pandemic with all the difficulties that higher ed is facing, Auburn said we're going to eat $10 million in a month and potentially-- or actually and $20 million over the upcoming years, to get rid of Gus Malzahn.

They replaced him with a gentleman by the name of Bryan Harsin, who's the coach of Boise State. A very successful head coach there. It'll be an interesting cultural fit. But to me, that was the big one that happened. Nobody thought people would eat tens of millions of dollars in a pandemic for a new football coach, but they did.

AKIKO FUJITA: And Pete, as we look ahead to next season, I mean, I know things haven't wrapped up yet this season. But college football is going to file, kind of in that timeline where we're not quite sure if things are fully going to be back to normal with the vaccinations out there. During the season this year, there were a lot of outbreaks among some of these college football teams. What's the conversation right now, you think, among the athletic departments about how they should proceed looking ahead to next year and what are some of the lessons learned?

PETE THAMEL: Sure. Well I think the next big mile marker in college athletics is going to be the NCAA tournament in March. As of now, it's going to be held in the schedule. And college basketball is experiencing a similar sputtering, fits and starts, that college football had had. And for the future of the NCAA, they need to have a college basketball tournament this year. It obviously got canceled last season. There's literally billions of dollars at stake.

So amid the pandemic, amid the spike we're in right now, the NCAA is going to have the tournament in Indianapolis only. That's been decided. Still some of the format stuff is to be determined but the next few weeks, I mean, there's been a flurry of games canceled and it's been the similar story that we've seen in other sports. And can the NCAA land the plane and play its tournament and collect the-- the television money.