The drama around the Big Ten conference approving a plan to return and play college football this fall reached another critical point over the weekend.
Over the weekend, presidents and chancellors from every Big Ten program met in a conference call to discuss bringing football back by October. However, while a vote was initially expected, a big decision was delayed on Sunday.
Latest on Big Ten football and 2020 season
Ever since Big Ten presidents overwhelmingly voted to cancel their 2020 college football season due to COVID-19 concerns, the conference has seen an overwhelming backlash. From fans and family members of student-athletes protesting to top coaches and players demanding clearance to play, the Big Ten has been under constant pressure.
Facing mounting scrutiny for suspending football while the ACC and Big 12 play out their season, Big Ten officials participated in a conference call on Sunday. While previous reports indicated university presidents and chancellors would vote and restarting football, that didn’t happen.
However, according to the Detroit Free Press, there is optimism growing for Big Ten teams to play football this fall. Sunday’s call provided further clarity and answered questions for key decision-makers about the latest medical information on COVID-19 and the risks of student-athletes playing amid the pandemic.
During the call, presidents and chancellors learned about the medical advances being made in rapid COVID-19 testing and received updates on myocarditis, a heart issue that has been found in athletes who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Sunday’s call reportedly made an impact on the same voters who ruled against playing college football this fall. Now, with a vote expected in the next few days, there is growing momentum for the Big Ten allowing teams to restart and begin preparing to play college football this fall.
When would the Big Ten’s restarted football season kick-off?
Even if conference officials vote to restart the 2020 college football season, it will take time for a new schedule to be created and for teams to get ready for the season. The timing of a potential restart is especially important, given recent COVID-19 issues at Big Ten programs.
The Wisconsin Badgers recently suspended workouts for two weeks following a rise in COVID-19 cases on campus. In addition, Penn State’s total coronavirus cases experienced another large jump this weekend. Just as alarming, an Ohio State study discovered four of its student-athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 showed signs of myocarditis.
While those are obvious reasons for concern and might tap into the fears that the Big Ten’s chancellors and presidents have, there’s no denying they are also feeling the pressure to approve a restart. Ohio State’s president offered hope to fans in a recent interview that football would be played this fall.
All of this comes after President Donald Trump blasted the Big Ten for canceling its college football season. A short time later, he had a phone call with conference commissioner Kevin Warren that was productive.
Unfortunately for President Trump and football fans, Big Ten programs won’t be returning immediately. Instead, according to USA Today, the 2020 season could kick off on Oct. 17 and each team could play an eight-game schedule. While that date is still a month out, it’s a far better outcome than the initial plans to return in the winter or starting around Thanksgiving.
For this to happen, the Big Ten will need a lot of help. Specifically, assistance from the federal government. The conference wants greater access to rapid testing, contact tracing and enhanced medical equipment to test for cardiac issues.
If that happens, with the additional benefit of more information on COVID-19 itself, we could see the Big Ten kick off its college football season next month.