Chaos Escalates Around B1G Football but January Start Emerging as Favorite Outcome

Photo: John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press

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.

Big Ten Schools Public Stance on Decision to Cancel Fall Sports:

SchoolIn-Person Fall ClassesReaction to Postponing B1G Football
Ohio StateYesHCRyan Day Publicly Against Decision
Star QB – Justin Fields Started Petition for B1G to Reinstate Season
ParentsSend Letter to B1G
NebraskaYesHCScott Frost Publicly Against Decision
ParentsHanded Letter to B1G
MichiganYesHCJim Harbaugh Publicly Against Decision
ParentsSend Letter to B1G
IowaYesParentsSend Letter to B1G
WisconsinYesPlayersMultiple Players Speak Out Against Decision
ADBarry Alvarez Has Towed B1G Line Since Decision
MinnesotaYesHC – PJ Fleck Publicly Supports B1G Decision
Players – Publicly Support B1G Decision
AD – Mark Coyle Publicly Supports B1G Decision
PurdueYesHCJeff Brohm Created Spring Plan for Football
RutgersYesHCGreg Schiano Made a Generic Statement
Michigan StateNoHC Mel Tucker “Respects” B1G Decision
Penn StateYesHC James Franklin Publicly Frustrated w/B1G
ParentsSent Letter to B1G
PlayersMultiple Players Publicly Frustrated
IllinoisYesParentsSent Letter to B1G
HCLovie Smith Generic Support for B1G
Maryland NoNothing…

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.

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.

MinneapolisU.S. Bank StadiumMinnesota Vikings
DetroitFord FieldDetroit Lions
IndianapolisLucas Oil StadiumIndianapolis Colts
SyracuseCarrier DomeSyracuse University
St. LouisThe Dome at America’s CenterNone
Potential Indoor Venues for a B1G Winter Season

Eligibility Impact

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

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