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NCAA releases nothingburger statement after Big Ten’s announcement

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Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten’s decision to forgo non-conference play during the 2020 college football season could have wide-ranging ramifications.

This means that Ohio State’s game against Oregon and Wisconsin’s date against Notre Dame have been canceled. Other conferences will likely fall in line here soon.

The NCAA released a statement following the Big Ten’s decision Thursday night. Remarkably, it didn’t really say anything at all.

NCAA’s statement following Big Ten’s decision lays groundwork for governing body to remain sidelined

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact college sports nationally, the NCAA supports its members as they make important decisions based on their specific circumstances and in the best interest of college athletes’ health and well-being,” the statement read.

Typically, a deadpan statement like this from a governing body such as the NCAA wouldn’t be newsworthy. But if you read between the lines, it’s a clear indication that the NCAA will let conferences and schools make decisions without stepping in.

What might this mean for the 2020 college football season?

It’s a good question. The more conferences that decide to follow the Big Ten’s lead, the better. Playing games against opponents within your own conference would have to be the mandate around the nation in order for this to work.

That latter point has been the issue as it relates to the 2020 college football season starting late next month. Typically, non-conference games start off the schedule before teams move to conference opponents at some point in October. This could very well mean that the start of the season will be postponed.

What happens to the Notre Dame football schedule?

This is one of the unintended consequences of teams deciding to play only within the conference. As an independent, every Notre Dame game is against a non-conference opponent. Obviously, that would pretty much eliminate the football team’s 2020 schedule.

The NCAA’s statement Thursday night does not even come close to addressing this issue. If the governing body is to remain on the sideline when it comes to decisions relating to the 2020 season, Notre Dame could very well be left out in the cold. And in reality, a college football season without the Irish makes no sense.

The good news? Notre Dame’s six games for this upcoming season are against ACC opponents. The conference could very well decide to extend its relationship with the Irish to fill out their schedule.

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