The Big Ten Conference announced on Aug. 11 that all collegiate events this fall were postponed to the spring. The major news coming out of this announcement was that the Big Ten Conference would not be playing football this fall.
Sources reported that the Big Ten Conference expected that the other Power 5 Conferences would follow suit and announce the postponement of football, but that was not the case. The Pac-12 Conference did announce the postponement of football this fall, and it also announced that all sporting events were postponed until at least Jan. 1, 2021.
After the announcement from the Big Ten Conference, the league was faced with criticism and many protests. Several colleges and universities and the league lobbied for the school to change their decision to let football play this fall.
The Big Ten Conference held firm with its decision initially, but things started to change over the last few weeks. Finally, all of the presidents and chancellors in the Big Ten Conference met last weekend to vote on a return to fall sports.
The final vote was unanimous, and the league has decided to play football games this fall, although several health and safety protocols will be in place. The outside pressure was simply too much, and the league eventually decided to give college football a chance.
Season to Begin Oct. 24
Last week, the Big Ten Conference announced that the 2020 college football season would start on Oct. 24, a huge victory for those folks lobbying for the season. The Big Ten Conference is set to launch weeks after other Power 5 Conferences, but at least football will be played this fall.
On Saturday, the Big Ten unveiled the new schedule for the 2020 regular season, and it includes eight regular-season games, with one final game added during the final week of the season. The league has tried to protect the major rivalry games, and those matchups will take place during the final week of the season.
The Big Ten Championship Game is set for Dec. 19, and the rest of the league will also be in action that weekend. The conference will seed each team, and there will be crossover matchups between teams from each division.
The biggest hurdle facing the conference when it postponed college football in August was COVID-19 testing, but that issue has since been resolved. The conference has been able to come up with a rapid testing program, and it will be on every campus in the Big Ten by the end of September.
Players or staff members that test positive for COVID-19 will be forced to sit out for a period of 21 days before they can return to competition.
A Chance at the College Football Playoff?
The Big Ten Conference made sure to wrap up the regular season by Dec. 12 in order to hold the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 19. The league did not leave any wiggle room in the schedule, which would complicate things if there are positive tests at some point.
League officials wanted to ensure that Big Ten teams would have a chance to qualify for the College Football Playoff, as that selection show is slated for Dec. 20. The Big Ten Championship Game will be held on Dec. 19, and there is a chance that the league champion will be selected as part of the four-team College Football Playoff field.
It’s unclear what criteria the College Football Playoff selection committee will use this season, as each Power 5 Conference is operating under a completely different set of circumstances. Teams will all be playing a different number of games, which will complicate things in terms of selection.