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Big 10 flip flops on football

It’s a powerful force.

The Big Ten announced Tuesday that its Council of Presidents and Chancellors has voted to allow the league to play football in fall 2020. The Big Ten will open its season on the weekend of Oct. 24 with teams playing eight regular-season games over eight weeks along with a Big Ten Championship Game and six additional consolation games.

The Big Ten Championship Game is scheduled for Dec. 19, making the Big Ten eligible or the College Football Playoff as the final CFP Rankings announcement of the season is set or Dec. 20.

The Big Ten will also play league consolation games with teams placing second- through seventh-place in their divisions matching up on Dec. 19. There may be adjustments to those games, however, as Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said the Big Ten will try to avoid repeat matchups if teams had already played in the regular season.

Tickets will not be sold and fans will not be allowed to attend games this season, though exceptions may be made for families of athletes, coaches and staff.

The conference will now feature daily, rapid COVID-19 testing as a focal point of its return to play plan. Testing for athletes and coaches will begin on Sept. 30. The earliest an athlete could return to game competition is 21 days following a positive diagnosis. Additionally, the Big Ten unveiled new information on its plans for myocarditis screening in the wake of any positive tests. Both of those were major concerns that were among the main reasons for the Big Ten’s original decision to cancel fall football on Aug. 11.

See here for the background, and here for the Big Ten’s statement on testing and other protocols. That just leaves the PAC 12 among the Power 5 conferences not playing football this fall, though many other conferences have opted out. Maybe this will work, and maybe the carping from people who want to know why the schools aren’t providing tests for all of their students won’t be a drag, but it’s fair to say there will be issues.

Despite the delayed start, there remain numerous roadblocks for an actual return to football. Wisconsin football and hockey, for example, recently paused for two weeks after a rash of COVID-19 positives. Meanwhile, games across the country continue to be postponed left and right. Virginia-Virginia Tech, Houston-Memphis, Army-BYU and SMU-TCU are just some of the 13 games that have already been postponed; some games may be canceled if new dates are not easily achieved.

Like I said, maybe this will work. And maybe it will be a huge mess. This Slate piece argues that if you were going to do college football this fall, you’d want to do it the way the Big 10 is proposing to do it, so we’ll see. Good luck and let’s hope nobody’s health is permanently damaged as a result.

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5 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    They saw the NFL play and figured, why can’t they? Also, the public pressure from Trump, and no doubt, from the various schools’ deep pocket alumni donors, played into the reversal as well. What percent we can ascribe to each would just be a guess.

    However it breaks down, this is great news for those of us who will not be watching the NFL.

  2. brad says:

    I would be surprised if the nations’ schools participating in CFB make it through their season completely without a lot cancelled games.

  3. C.L. says:

    Never underestimate the power of the Almighty Dollar.

  4. brad says:

    C.L.,

    True.

    Racial justice in Mississippi only gets a leg up when the SEC steps up and heroically tells Mississippi its going to lose a lot of money when the don’t get any championship matches/tournaments. SEC has come a long way since 1966.

  5. […] be allowed at on campus games until at least January. It does indeed seem inevitable that once the Big Ten came back, the PAC 12 would follow. Now even some non-Power Five conferences are also returning, as the […]