How the ACC's Fall Sports Decision Impacts Ohio State, Big Ten
The uncertainty around college sports this fall during the COVID-19 pandemic feels like an extreme roller coaster ride. Depending on the day, it's easy to feel your emotions riding high and confident in a season, or feel hopeless and not know when competition will begin again.
Perhaps Wednesday provides some hope for a more normal fall.
The ACC announced on Wednesday its intentions to conduct all fall sports in 2020, including an 11-game football season that includes Notre Dame. The league will play a 10-game conference schedule and allow for one non-ACC game to preserve regional rivalries (like South Carolina-Clemson, for example). All TV revenue will be split equally between the 15 schools and the 11 games will be played over at least 13 weeks beginning the week of September 7–12.
Maybe the most interesting component is that the ACC has gone away with divisions for the year. All teams compete in one division and the top team teams (based on winning percentage) will compete in the ACC title game either Dec. 12 or 19 in Charlotte, NC.
Notably, the league did not make any statements on whether fans would be able to attend games.
Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger is also reporting that the SEC met on Wednesday and its athletic directors are ready to approve a 10-game schedule, but the university presidents have not signed off yet.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten has been patient since it first announced its intentions to play conference-only games in the fall for all of its varsity sports. An announcement on the league's intentions to compete this fall should be coming soon, but I would be surprised if it perfectly mirrored today's ACC announcement. That would mean walking back on the "conference-only" idea, and while it's possible, I think it's unlikely the league changes it's mind. In addition, the vast majority of Power 5 schools in the Big Ten footprint already belong to the conference.
I think a much more likely possibility is that they decide to play 11 games within the conference rather than to backpedal on a previous decision. But it's entirely possible that not every Power 5 school plays this same number of games this year.
The ACC is the first Power 5 league to announce its intentions this fall, and with the SEC reportedly not far behind, I think there is mounting optimism that the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 will follow suit in short order.
Ohio State announced on Tuesday that there will be no tailgating this fall and that Ohio Stadium would be at 20% capacity (at most) if the university hosts games this fall.