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It's Official: Big Ten Announces Return of Football in Late October, Adds 9th Game

It looks like the Big Ten is going to play football this fall after all, with an announcement likely to come fairly soon on Wednesday, with an eight-game schedule release to follow.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — After a month of teeth-gnashing and three days of wondering, the Big Ten announced Wednesday morning that there will be conference football in the fall

Sports Illustrated reported earlier this morning that the league was ready to reverse course and start a season on the weekend of Oct. 23-24. Others, including ESPN and Yahoo!, reported the news as well. Practices are scheduled to return immediately.

The Big Ten tweeted the official news at 9:20 a.m. ET

The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily antigen testing. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.

“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Head Team Physician, The Ohio State University and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee.

“The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”

  • RELATED: Here is the Big Ten's complete press release. CLICK HERE

It appears that all 14 schools will participate and the vote to play was unanimous. Starting on the weekend of Oct. 23-24 means an eight-game schedule could be played with no bye weeks. 

The Big Ten Championship Game would be Dec. 19 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indiana, which is one day before the final College Football Playoff rankings are announced, along with the four playoff teams. 

But now the championship weekend is going to look completely different because EVERYONE is going to play a ninth game. And with a complete season, Big Ten teams will be allowed to play in bowl games as well. Eligibility rules will have to change, because in a normal 12-week season, a minimum of six games was required to be eligible for a bowl game.

Alvarez: Everyone will play 9th game

BREAKING: Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who's been on a committee with other athletic directors and coaches to work on scheduling, was also interviewed. He said there were four different scheduling models to presidents.

The one they selected, he said, will include eight regular season games, plus a championship game the weekend of Dec. 18-19.

What is new is that everyone will play nine games because crossover games will be played on championship weekend, too. The No. 2 team in the East will play the No. 2 team in the West, and so on down the line.

A new schedule is expected to be announced soon, Alvarez said. The league has had two schedules already, the original 12-game schedule that included the usual three nonconference games and nine Big Ten games.

BACKGROUND: In early August, the league opted to go to a conference-only schedule to minimize exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a 10-game league-only schedule was announced on Aug. 5. But just six days later, the league decided to push football to the spring, and the Pac-12 went along with them.

But the SEC, ACC and Big 12 decided to move forward with a fall season, and they were all more than willing to determine a national champion without the Big Ten. Several ACC and Big 12 schools have already played games, and the SEC starts next weekend with a conference-only schedule.

President Donald Trump weighs in on news

BREAKING: President Donald Trump weighed in after the announcement and was thrilled with the result. He had a conversation with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren two weeks ago. He did thank others for their role as well. 

Warren said during an interview on the Big Ten Network that safety has always remained the first priority in returning to football

"The only focus and goal we've had over the last 40 days was to safely allow our student-athletes to return to competition," Warren said.

Michigan's Jim Harbaugh: "Thrilled chance to play''

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who has been pushing for a return often in the past few weeks, was thrilled with the news.

"Great news today. Over the past month, I could sense the anticipation from our players and coaches, and I’m thrilled on their behalf that they will have a chance to play a 2020 season. Stay positive. Test negative. Let’s play football."

Fans: No public sale of tickets

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said during a Big Ten Zoom call that no tickets will be sold to the general public for Big Ten games this season. 

She said depending on local community rules that accommodations might be made for family members of players.

"We are not going to permit fans in general, but we are looking at seeing what we can do on a campus-by-campus basic, both home and away,'' she said.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

  • TOM BREW COLUMN: We can start now, but can we finish a football season? Still a lot to worry about. CLICK HERE
  • INDIANA 'EXCITED TO BE BACK': The news of the return of football spread quickly across the Indiana campus. CLICK HERE
  • FULL BIG TEN RELEASE: Here is the complete press release from the Big Ten Conference in regards to the return of football and the new medical protocols that are going to be in place, including daily test. CLICK HERE