Amid Doubt, Big Ten Pushing Forward with Football

David Visser

Update:

The Big Ten has released its schedule for the 2020 season, and is currently targeting a September 5 start date. The conference has made plans for a 10-game, conference-only schedule.

Original Article:

Early in July, the Big Ten was the first power-five conference to announce its plan for a new, revamped fall college football season amid a surging coronavirus in the US. The model, which features conference-only games across all fall sports, was quickly adapted by the Pac-12 shortly thereafter. 

The ACC then followed suit by unveiling its own plan, which adhered to the conference-only slate but added a lone in-state, non-conference football game as well. I've already written about how the conference didn't exactly do Florida State any favors, but now a bigger question presents itself: will it even matter?

Because the Big Ten could be in another position to make history on Wednesday, as its commissioner, Kevin Warren, put off an expected Tuesday announcement of the conference's football schedule, delaying it until today. An outbreak at Rutgers, where 28 football players and several staffers recently tested positive for COVID-19, caused more than a pause within the Big Ten and across the sports world. And now it appears that canceling the fall season altogether could be on the table, per a report from the Chicago Tribune. Would other conferences once again follow suit?

But there's some reason for optimism, for college football fans:

But the larger questions persist: should a contact sport like college football be played in the fall, with cases on the rise? Remember, outbreaks like the one at Rutgers are already occurring without teams traveling across the expansive geographic footprints that conferences these days occupy. Will there be a hard limit on how many cases are too many before an entire program shuts down? We'll know more later today. 

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