Chaos Escalates Around B1G Football but January Start Emerging as Favorite Outcome
With the Big Ten punting on playing football this fall there have been plenty of ideas on what the league will do next. Whether it was Purdue’s Jeff Brohm releasing his entire 2021 plan or Ohio State’s Ryan Day pushing for a winter season, people want football back ASAP.
It appears that Day’s winter plan is gaining the most momentum though. According to the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel, the conference is working on an updated schedule that begins in early January. We talked about this possibility last week.
There is a lot being reported today… but here is a look at where things stand right now and what we know about the dissent within the Big Ten.
ICYMI: B1G officials are working on a plan for football that could have a January start date, with game played indoors. #Badgers parents were briefed last night. Yes, I understand nothing is guaranteed during a pandemic. https://t.co/U67HG2Gx5D— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) August 19, 2020
What’s clear in the @bigten is division. Commissioner Warren dodged every question & every follow up from @BTNDaveRevsine on his own Network. The vote originally leaked as 12-2 to the media, was done so incorrectly. It was 8-6, and it’s impossible politics didn’t play a role.— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) August 16, 2020
Big Ten Schools Public Stance on Decision to Cancel Fall Sports:
Pushback Seems to be Working
While the chances of playing football this fall dwindles by the day, the pushback from players, coaches, parents, and fans appears to be working…somewhat. After their pleas initially fell on deaf ears, the Big Ten has seemingly been forced to open up about what their plan is.
The decision to go with a winter season (January-February) is smarter than a spring season (March-April). It seems the conference has noticed that. They want to complete the season with enough time for eligible players to prepare for the NFL Draft (slated to begin on April 29th).
The earlier you start the season, the better chance the NFL-talent around the league stays on to play the 2020 college season.
A Scheduling Headache
A winter season still brings plenty of questions. The first issue is what the season would look like. It’s been reported, by the Journal Sentinel, that a spring season would not be a full season.
There were some reports this morning and late last night, that some Big Ten schools were thinking about breaking off from the Big Ten to play fall games, or at least playing games against other Big Ten teams who were willing… I have sources that confirmed those talks definitely happened, which could have helped spur this sudden push for a January solution ASAP.
Report: six Big Ten schools, led by Ohio State, are attempting to play a home and home schedule this fall. Just when you think the Big Ten rebellion stories can’t get any wilder, they do: https://t.co/N1uqmKkgJf— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) August 19, 2020
So the Big Ten …— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) August 19, 2020
– Doesn’t want to play in the fall, but can play in January
– Wants to play indoors where it’s more likely to transmit COVID-19 rather than outdoors (where, yes, it is colder)
– Still has no organization whatsoever
What a mess
A spring (January start) schedule would likely be an eight-game conference-only slate, instead of the original ten game schedule released earlier in August. Teams are expected to have an extra one or two bye-weeks, in hopes of minimizing injuries and allowing for opportunities to reschedule games due to COVID-19.
Where to Play?
There are talks about each game being played indoors, due to the harsh Midwest winters (what, it gets cold here in the winter???). This could get tricky for teams to figure out, since nobody in the Big Ten plays indoors anymore… There are nearby facilities in Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Detroit but those venues would need approval from the tenant NFL teams or stadium commissions.
Something that has not been mentioned, is playing games inside practice facilities. While something like that could be a logistical nightmare for the television networks, it would allow teams to stay on campus and travel solely to their opponent’s facility. There are certainly parts of this plan that don’t make sense, especially with the original decision to cancel, but the Big Ten is running out of options fast after digging their heels in early.
|Minneapolis||U.S. Bank Stadium||Minnesota Vikings|
|Detroit||Ford Field||Detroit Lions|
|Indianapolis||Lucas Oil Stadium||Indianapolis Colts|
|Syracuse||Carrier Dome||Syracuse University|
|St. Louis||The Dome at America’s Center||None|
One of the biggest hurdles the Big Ten will face, is how playing in the spring will impact player eligibility. Some incoming recruits are choosing to enroll early and try to play. Begging the question: will the NCAA allow players to play two seasons in one calendar year and use only one year of eligibility?
Ryan Day has used this possibility as a pitch to his recruits, but there is no official response from the Big Ten or NCAA on whether that would be allowed.
Where is PJ?
With Gophers’ head coach PJ Fleck, and his players, backing the conference’s decision to postpone the fall season, he has remained relatively quiet since his press conference last week. For a man who is always chock-full of ideas and never short on words this seems questionable, at best. The Big Ten needs another fiery head coach to get behind this movement to play.
Whatever happens, Penn State’s athletic director Sandy Barbour told reporters to expect a concept from the conference in the next week or two. Hopefully that will push the first domino that eventually leads to a season that starts in January.
Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan