Big Ten 2020 College Football Season: Game On. Yay.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten 2020 College Football Season: Game On. Yay.

Big Ten

Big Ten 2020 College Football Season: Game On. Yay.


Big Ten football is coming back for the 2020 season, starting in late October with an eight game schedule. How did this happen? What’s the season going to be like?

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We’re getting Big Ten football again this year.


After all the craziness, and all the screaming, yelling, weeping and gnashing of teeth, the Big Ten football season is going to happen in 2020.

The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors has changed its mind and decided to give it a go starting October 23rd with the plan to play eight games in eight weeks with four home games and four on the road.

If this all works, the conference should be a part of the College Football Playoff process – any previously-stated cut-off dates will be tweaked – and outside of no fans expected to be in the stands other than friends and family, it’s going to almost be like a normal Big Ten football season when it all kicks back in.

And then there’s this other neat idea. The Big Ten might have an extra “Champions Week” so teams not in the Big Ten Championship can play a ninth game.

But it’s going to be … interesting. A few key points.

The Big Ten is playing without a net here schedule-wise with no real ability to adjust things if a team has to take a week off.

A team has to lock down if it hits a 5% positivity rate, with 0-2% being in the Green range. “Team continues with normal practice and competition,” according to the Big Ten statement.

2-5% falls into what the Big Ten has as the Orange phase, “Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).”

5% is the Red phase, meaning a shutdown for at least seven days.

A player is out for three weeks – 21 days – if he tests positive. No wiggle-room.

So why the sudden change? Why is the Big Ten now thinking it can play college football when just a few weeks ago it postponed – it never wanted anyone to use the word cancel – the 2020 campaign because it didn’t think things were going to be safe?

Wisconsin recently took a two-week timeout on normal class learning, and Michigan State just went on self-quarantine because of “exponential growth” of cases on campus.

Ohio State cancelled Spring Break, Michigan students are taking classes from their dorm rooms, and Illinois, who did things absolutely letter-perfect to try keeping things in check, is showing that doing this right still isn’t enough.

However, when it comes to football, the Big Ten is coming back for two key reasons.

1. Money. It really, really needs any revenue football can generate, and …

2. Testing. Until there’s a vaccine, testing is, and has always been, the game-changing X factor.

And for the love of Bob Devaney, Nebraska, don’t be bad now after all of your hollering. And Ohio State, you got what you wanted, so WIN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.

The Big Ten isn’t coming back because it’s being nice.

It’s not coming back because it wants to do the players who #WantToPlay a solid.

It’s not coming back because of any notion of hard work being done by a bunch of young men. Everyone works hard.

It’s not coming back because of the helicopter parents protesting outside of the Big Ten offices.

It’s not coming back because of a petition, or because of any legal push after a few superfans dialed 1-600-LAWYERB.

It’s not coming back because it was ripped on by any twistedly profane guys on Twitter with a Big Ten logo and a Bible verse in their profiles.

It’s not coming back because of some phone call from the President whose trying to score political points – the Big Ten is supposedly using tests it’s purchasing and not taking anything from the government stockpile.

If you haven’t learned by now, the Big Ten is a business. College football is a business. College is a business. It makes good business sense to give this college football thing a try, but only because now the more reliable and faster tests are in place to – hopefully – keep the football players safe.

The Big Ten has the resources to do this. 

And now, what about the Pac-12?

The Pac-12 isn’t playing yet partly because it didn’t believe in the reliability, speed, and accuracy of the tests in place – and now that barrier appears to be gone. However, the conference also has several schools in states – California and Oregon – where gatherings can’t and aren’t happening. The Big Ten doesn’t have that.

Why didn’t the Big Ten just say it didn’t have the tests yet and avoid all of this hoo-ha?

It’s just a guess, but with its states not held by the same restrictions of some in the Pac-12, the idea of testing as a standalone excuse would be a political fight the league didn’t want to take up.

But the tests are there, and there’s money to be made now. It also helps that college football has started up elsewhere, and while it’s a bit of a mess overall, football players aren’t keeling over left and right on the field because of COVID. The optics have changed a bit.

It also helps that most of the football teams have been practicing and operating without a whole lot of problems – most have been able to lock down as effectively as possible.

There’s going to be a rightful uproar for the regular students. This football thing coming back is great, but can the schools do more to make sure the student body can be safer in classes, dorms, and everywhere else? Of course that’s what really matters, but for now, take the win.

Take the step forward and hope that this is a sign that it really is possible to do some normal things with more confidence that it’s all safe. For morale, and for the entire college experience, having a college football team to cheer for matters.

We’re getting Big Ten football again this year.

Awesome. Game on.


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