Will Pac-12, Mountain West, MAC Follow Big Ten's Lead?
No one wanted to be first and now, no one wants to be last.
Once the Athletic Coast Conference (ACC) and Big 12 hit the field last weekend to kick-off their 2020 seasons, college football felt like it was officially back. With six of the ten FBS leagues scheduled to play and games underway, the four leagues that postponed their seasons scrambled to come up with a solution.
For 36 days the Big Ten didn’t flinch. Even when Justin Fields sparked a petition that received hundreds of thousands of signatures, Kevin Warren reaffirmed his stance that the conference would not revisit its decision. However, while Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma opened up their seasons this past weekend and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) close behind, it would have been a travesty without the Big Ten playing football this year.
There is perhaps no stronger way to say we want to play football than a unanimous vote by the presidents of the teams in the conference to bring the Big Ten back. Now, it has created a domino effect for the other FBS conferences to play.
With the Big Ten preparing to play in just over a month, the Pac-12, Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Mountain West Conference (MWC) are now expediting their plans to play.
Reports across the country are making it seem as though it's just a matter of time before those three leagues follow suit and get back to football.
Several coaches and players from those programs have gone to social media to express their approval about playing this fall.
For the Pac-12, timing is of the essence. All conferences will look to complete their championship game before the College Football Playoff selection committee decides on Dec. 20 the New Year’s Six Bowls, which includes the four teams playing in the semifinal games. Since the first playoff in 2014, Oregon and Washington have played in the playoff once and they surely do not want to be left out of the mix for this year; USC could potentially be included in that conversation as well.
The Pac-12 CEO Group, which is comprised of a president or chancellor from each of the 12 schools in the league, met Friday afternoon but did not vote on whether to start the season.
"The Pac-12 CEO Group had an informative and productive meeting earlier today," the group said in a statement. "We plan to reconvene this coming Thursday, September 24 to make a decision regarding possible return to play prior to January 1. The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports will continue to be our number one priority in all of our decision making."
While there is certainly a sense of urgency out west with the Pac-12, the Mountain West and Mid-American Conferences have a more challenging road ahead. The majority of those schools rely heavily on income from their early season "buy games" and without those, it's harder for them to justify playing a season. But it's still possible and there has been progress (in varying degrees) in each of them.
But one thing is for sure - if the Big Ten didn't choose to come back this fall, those other three conferences very likely wouldn't be pursuing a similar course.