The Big Ten is the first Power 5 conference to announce an alteration to its football schedule in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic reports that the Big Ten is expected to announce a conference-only schedule for the fall, adding that the Pac-12 is expected to follow suit.
At first glance, that doesn’t seem like a devastating blow. While certain marquee matchups like Oregon-Ohio State and Wisconsin-Notre Dame will no longer be in the cards, it’s at least somewhat encouraging that the conference is still trying to move forward with attempts to play in the fall. Indeed, following the Ivy League’s announcement that it would postpone its season to the spring, many believed that other conferences would follow suit.
Of course, the nation’s infection rate is not going down like it was expected to, and today’s announcement simply feels like the first of many changes to come. The remaining P5 conferences are expected to make a tentative decision on their schedules by early August.
As of now, the NFL has no plans to postpone the draft to accommodate college teams that might be playing in the spring, but if more conferences follow the Ivy League’s lead, that might change. Given the massive revenue losses that colleges would experience without a football season, they will continue trying to do everything in their power to play, whether that’s in the fall or the spring.
It is worth noting that the games the Big Ten and other P5 schools play against smaller programs are significant sources of income for the smaller schools, so this will be a tough pill for them to swallow.