After considerable discussion and numerous reports detailing that the top brass of the Big Ten was considering canceling the conference’s college football season, the decision is here.
While it’s not a full cancellation, Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports reported that the Big Ten will postpone the 2020 football season with the hope of playing in the spring.
The conference’s decision comes after the Mid-American Conference postponed its 2020 season last week. There was quite a bit of speculation that the Big Ten would be the first of all Power-5 conferences to pull out of the fall season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This has prompted much back and forth from administrators, coaches, and players as the debate over whether student-athletes would be safer with their respective teams or on their own has grown.
However, the latest announcement all but seals the fate of the conference’s respective members, with the official statement coming at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
Backlash to Big 10’s Progress to Cancellation
Before the official announcement on Tuesday, there were several players and coaches that voiced their opinion on the conference’s seemingly inevitable decision to postpone or cancel, with Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day being the most notable.
“Well, it certainly caught me off guard with the schedule out last week and the schedule was designed to have some flexibility,” Ryan said to ESPN’s “College Football Live.” “And I just think that our job is to create the safest environment possible for these young men. And then present it to them and allow the players and their parents and their coaches to then decide if it’s safe enough. But because this schedule has provided some flexibility, I think we need to certainly not cancel the season.”
The majority of vocal players and coaches have been in favor of the season going ahead, with some even mentioning the idea of teams heading over to other conferences in an attempt to have a season.
For example, Buckeye Teradja Mitchell took to Twitter to ask the question of whether he or his team could head down south to play.
Football in the Spring?
The major concern when it comes to high-level college football in the spring is the clash with the NFL offseason schedule, most notably the NFL Scouting Combine and NFL Draft.
At certain levels of college football, this isn’t nearly as much of a problem, best evidenced by the cancellation of FCS conferences like the Big Sky.
However, the postponement will likely put several players in a place where they have to decide between playing a season in this academic year or instead, to forego playing at all. The latter decision would be made in order to ensure they can go through the offseason process and make themselves eligible for the draft by going pro.
A mass move to the spring from fellow Power-5 conferences could prompt a serious change as the NCAA and NFL would likely have to work together for a solution that would satisfy both ends of the spectrum.
However, considering the Big Ten offered a new fall schedule just over a week ago and has now postponed its season, it has become clear that the situation is just like most things in the pandemic: subject to change.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.