The 24-Hour Rule: Looking Back At The Big Ten's Decision

John Bohnenkamp

Kirk Ferentz has a "24-hour rule" about Iowa football games.

Win and celebrate for 24 hours, or lose and lament for the same time frame, and then move on to the next week.

So, we're 24 hours past the decision by the Big Ten to go to conference-only football games for 2020 (or maybe the spring of 2021) because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not really a win, so there's not much to celebrate. Not really a loss, so there's not much to lament.

How you can view the decision is the glass is half-full (hey, there could still be a football season) or half-empty (this is just the precursor to a cancellation of the season).

There is still a lot to unpack from the decision.

We still don't know how the schedule is going to look — that probably happens in the next week.

We still don't know how many games — the guess is it will be 10 (5 home, 5 road).

We still don't know if fans will be allowed in the stadiums.

And it's still not a guarantee there will be any games at all — the comments from Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith were a bit ominous.

Some thoughts after having a day to digest the decision:

The financial costs

If there are no fans allowed, or a limited number of fans allowed this season, Iowa will take a hit on the ticket revenue.

The loss of two home games will be significant.

Iowa loses its nonconference games against rival Iowa State and in-state FCS team Northern Iowa, as well as a game against Northern Illinois. The ISU game would have been a sellout, and so, probably, would the UNI game.

The Hawkeyes will get a Big Ten team (Michigan?) as a replacement, but if ticket sales are limited or nonexistent, it won't matter.

For UNI, it's the loss of a six-figure payday. If the Panthers can make that up with a replacement game against a Power-5 team, great, but as more conferences decide to take the Big Ten's direction, those opportunities dry up.

It had to be done now 

Officials from other conferences weren't happy the Big Ten made this decision so early, but it had to be done now.

It at least presents an opportunity for the nonconference opponents who lost games to find other options. And it gives a road map to what's coming up in the next few months, even if that road turns into a dead end or a detour into a spring season.

Voices in their ear

The Big Ten has a somewhat-new Committee on Infectious Diseases, and every team has its sports medicine staff. No doubt all are involved in this decision.

By keeping games in conference, there is a quality control over the protocols. Every school will follow the same plan. There was no guarantee a MAC team, or a Big 12 team, or a Football Championship Subdivision team, would be following the same protocols.

The final call on this season will come from university presidents, and they will be hearing the same voices.

What happens to the winter sports season?

There is still plenty of time to make that call, but don't be surprised if the Big Ten makes the same decision for winter sports teams.

A 26-game conference-only men's and women's basketball schedule? Don't laugh — it could happen.

Then again, nothing could happen

If there's no football until spring, there likely won't be any winter sports until after January 1.

It could be a cold next few months.

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