There will be Big Ten football in 2020. A little over a month after the Power 5 conference announced it would postpone its fall slate to the spring, that decision has been reversed.
Per Adam Rittenberg and Heather Dinich of ESPN.com, Big Ten presidents and chancellors unanimously voted to begin play on October 24. Each team will play eight games in eight weeks in advance of the conference championship game on December 19 (the teams not participating in the championship game will play a cross-division game on the same day). Selection Day for the College Football Playoff is scheduled for December 20.
Although we are only one week into the NFL season, the pros have shown that, with daily testing and attention to detail, there is hope that sports can proceed more or less as normal. Indeed, from September 6-12, the league administered 40,479 COVID-19 tests, and there were only two confirmed positive tests among players and five positives among other personnel (Twitter link via Mark Maske of the Washington Post). Given that success, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that the NFL is likely to continue daily testing all year.
The daily testing capabilities and stronger confidence in the latest medical information were among the reasons given for the Big Ten’s decision to start play next month. A few notable Big Ten players, like Ohio State CB Shaun Wade and Purdue WR Rondale Moore, had already elected to opt out of the season and begin preparations for the 2021 draft, but today’s announcement will generally be a major boon to players with professional aspirations who will now be able to put together more tape for NFL decision-makers well in advance of the draft.
With that, the Pac-12 is now the only Power 5 conference that won’t be playing this year. However, the Pac-12 is undertaking steps to change that, as conference commissioner Larry Scott explained in a statement. If the Pac-12 does end up playing in 2020, the NFL may be able to move forward with its offseason schedule without any major adjustments.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.