On Aug. 11, Big Ten football for fall of 2020 was postponed because of COVID-19 uncertainties. On Aug. 19, league commissioner Kevin Warren said the decision to postpone would not be revisited.
So, of course, Tuesday brought news that the Big Ten has re-re-reconsidered 2020 fall football.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday afternoon that a proposal has been approved for football this fall. There were no other further details. The Journal Sentinel reported that the latest proposal to the Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors included an Oct. 17 start with eight games in a nine-week window. A league title game would be Dec. 19. No word, however, on an actual “when” for the Big Ten.
The Big Ten champion would then be eligible for a spot in the College Football Playoff, which has its four-team field announced Dec. 20.
The news trickled out even earlier Tuesday.
University of Nebraska president Ted Carter was caught on a hot microphone Tuesday by an Omaha television station saying, “We’re getting ready to announce the Huskers and Big Ten football tonight."
Carter later told KLKN in Lincoln that statement was taken out of context.
Change the channel to CSPAN3. There University of Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank appeared during a virtual senate hearing on the name, image and likeness issue. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) asked Blank about the Big Ten’s decision not to play. She said it was based mostly on the challenges posed by COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as well as concerns about myocarditis.
Kaine also asked if the league might reverse course.
“Decisions within the Big Ten are largely majority based decisions, but I’ll be honest, we almost always decide everything by consensus. We very rarely take votes,” Blank said.
A court filing earlier this month (in a lawsuit brought by Nebraska players against the league) disclosed that Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 in favor of postponing all fall sports. Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State voted against the move.
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Earlier this month, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said it would take a miracle for the league to play in October. He also said, when speaking on what it would take to kick-start a fall schedule, “The most important one is getting the medical team comfortable to say to our presidents and ADs, ‘Here’s the path forward for football and all of fall sports and basketball and winter sports.’”
Since the Big Ten’s Aug. 11 announcement, the University of Iowa has cut four sports — men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and men’s gymnastics. Also Tuesday, the Iowa athletics department submitted its 2021 budget to the Iowa Board of Regents. In addition to a drop in revenue — from $120.1 million in 2020 to $23.2 million next year — the budget shows a $43 million drop in income from the Big Ten. In 2020, the league paid members schools more than $53 million. That’s down to $10 million for 2021.
That’s the impact of college football.
Advances in COVID-19 testing also gave the push to play a boost. The Pac-12, which also voted Aug. 11 not to play this fall, reached a deal with a rapid-response COVID-19 testing company to provide tests. Dr. James Borchers, Ohio State’s team physician and one of four members of the executive committee for the Big Ten’s Return to Competition task force, made a presentation to the task force’s steering committee last Saturday, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The full Council of Presidents and Chancellors was briefed Sunday.
Around the time this news started to move, the Iowa football Twitter account posted pictures of players going through winter workouts. Iowa athletics reported 23 positive COVID-19 tests this week. Hawkeye sports teams resumed workouts Sept. 8 after pausing for an outbreak.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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