On Aug. 11, the Big Ten announced it would be postponing its college football season from the fall to the spring, followed by the likes of the Pac-12, the MAC, and the Mountain West making similar decisions.
While some opted to postpone, others – namely the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 – decided to move forward as scheduled with the fall season.
In the weeks following the Big Ten’s announcement, though, the conference has been met with criticism from its own athletic directors, coaches, players and fans, with a group of Nebraska players going as far as to file a lawsuit just last week in hopes of overturning the decision.
Amid the back-and-forths, reports circulated going into the weekend that the Big Ten was not only reconsidering its spring football decision, but that we could see the conference kick off its season on Thanksgiving.
“Big Ten coaches, athletic directors and medical personnel are working on multiple plans for staging a football season — including one that would have the league kicking off as soon as Thanksgiving weekend,” the Associated Press reported on Aug. 28. “The conference is in the early stages of a complicated process that also involves broadcast partners and possible neutral site venues.”
In response to the Thanksgiving reports, President Donald Trump tweeted that he wanted “Big Ten and all other football back NOW,” followed by another update Tuesday indicating he has spoken with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren about bringing back the fall season.
“Had a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, about immediately starting up Big Ten football,” Trump tweeted. “Would be good (great!) for everyone – Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!”
The Big Ten later confirmed the conversation, adding that talks were “productive.”
“The Big Ten Conference and its Return To Competition Task Force, on behalf of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C), are exhausting every resource to help student-athletes get back to playing the sports they love, at the appropriate time, in the safest and healthiest way possible,” the statement said.
While USA Today’s Dan Wolken tweeted that the “characterization of the Big Ten being on the 1-yard line to return to play “immediately … is not how the [conference] views it,” several other reports have since confirmed that the season could be pushed up yet again.
Not January, not Thanksgiving, but October.
National radio personality Dan Patrick first reported that the Big Ten is now targeting a Oct. 10 start to the season.
“If conference can pass updated safety measures and procedures, Big Ten [is] targeting Oct. 10 to start football season,” Patrick said.
“From source: If conference can pass updated safety measures and procedures, Big Ten targeting Oct. 10 to start football season.” – Dan Patrick
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) September 1, 2020
Yacht Club Podcast host Sir Yacht, who first reported that the White House set up a meeting with the Big Ten this morning and discussed the possibility of an October return date, is also reporting that the conference will hold a formal vote this afternoon on an Oct. 10 start to the season.
B1G will hold formal vote this afternoon on already agreed-to fall season, per source.
October 10th will be official start date, and schedule will remain the same.
— Sir Yacht (@SirYacht) September 1, 2020
While there are updates of optimism regarding an October return to play, Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel has since urged fans assuming this is a done deal to pump the breaks, noting that this decision comes down to the league’s presidents, and the league’s presidents only.
“Just a reminder that the Big Ten’s presidents decide when they return to play,” Mandel wrote. “Not Kevin Warren, not the ADs, not the coaches, not the players’ parents. And the presidents aren’t the ones leaking these tantalizing October/Thanksgiving possibilities.
“Last week, Northwestern president Morton Schapiro ordered their freshmen/sophomores to stay home and closed fraternities and sororities. He is chairman of the B1G’s presidents. Does that sound like someone who would abruptly pivot to October football?”
Will the Big Ten change its mind once again? No one knows for certain.
What we do know, however, is that the conference has a mess on its hands.