On Sept. 15, Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Big Ten Conference is planning on announcing the start of its 2020 college football season this fall. The Big Ten and Pac-12 received a mix of criticism and praise for postponing their fall seasons in early August. However, with many Power 5 programs opening their seasons last week, the Big Ten wants back into the competition.
Nebraska president Ted Carter leaked news earlier that the B1G is set to announce it's 2020 football plan today. This is confirmed. Polls are closed. Votes are in. Time for #Badgers fans and their pals across the league to celebrate.
— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) September 15, 2020
Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel only added to the jubilation on Sept. 16, when he reported that the Big Ten plans on starting the season on Oct. 24. While that’s weeks away, it’s soon enough that the Big Ten can host a conference championship and compete for a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
The announcement doesn’t come as a surprise considering Nebraska president Ted Carter seemingly leaked the decision on Tuesday. A hot mic caught the president telling Bob Hinson, the National Strategic Research Institute’s director, “We’re getting ready to announce the Huskers and Big Ten football tonight.”
The Aug. 11 vote that postponed the Big Ten season featured an 11-3 decision by the league’s presidents and chancellors. Nebraska, Ohio State, and Iowa were the lone dissenting voices. However, a meeting last Sunday signaled the conference’s shifting tone. After significant programs like Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame, and Texas opened their seasons last weekend, the Big Ten became focused on bringing back football.
At the Sunday meeting, the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force presented the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors with a plan for resuming the season. According to an official Big Ten statement,
“The decision was based on information presented by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force, a working group that was established by the COP/C and Commissioner Kevin Warren to ensure a collaborative and transparent process.”
The conference didn’t shut the door on bringing back other fall sports either, concluding that,
“Eventually all Big Ten sports will require testing protocols before they can resume competition. Updates regarding fall sports other than football, as well as winter sports that begin in the fall including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and wrestling, will be announced shortly.”
After announcing the fall season’s postponement, the Big Ten faced massive blowback from fans and players alike. Some coaches even hinted at playing in other conferences while top draft prospects like Justin Fields took to Twitter, posting messages of unity in a desire for playing college football.
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) August 10, 2020
The Big Ten is one of college football’s premier conferences. Six of the conference’s football programs finished in the Associated Press’ top 25 at the end of the last season. Despite the Big Ten’s decision to not play, the AP ranked Ohio State second in its preseason top 25 poll. Penn State ranked seventh while Iowa (No. 24), Michigan (No. 16), Minnesota (No. 19), and Wisconsin (No. 12) also received spots.
What an abbreviated Big Ten season could look like isn’t entirely known yet, but another Power 5 conference is back in the fold. Despite a rocky start, the college football landscape is beginning to get back to normal.