The Big Ten Conference will announce Wednesday that its 2020 college football season will begin in October after a re-vote following new information relating to COVID-19, according to Yahoo Sports insider Pete Thamel. The news comes just over one month after league presidents and commissioner Kevin Warren announced a postponement of the fall season. Thamel reports an Oct. 24 start date for the conference, which allows more than a month of preparation for teams.
The league’s decision to reverse course after a fall postponement includes daily, rapid testing “as a fixture of the plan” with a formal announcement expected soon from the Big Ten offices, Thamel reports.
A report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jeff Potrykus first detailed a potential plan for the Big Ten to play eight football games in nine weeks on a schedule beginning in October. This would theoretically allow the conference’s teams to be eligible to compete in the College Football Playoff, although the SEC, ACC and Big 12 have games scheduled throughout September.
Nebraska President Ted Carter leaked the news a bit early on Tuesday afternoon during a conversation with Bob Hinson, director of the National Strategic Research Institute. Carter was heard on a hot mic indicating the Big Ten’s return announcement, but later recanted his statement and said he was optimistic his Huskers would play this season.
This comes on the heels of reports indicating the Big Ten’s hastened look at updated safety measures and procedures following positive developments relating to myocarditis along with support from President Donald Trump, who in a recent meeting with Warren, urged a return to the field.
The Big Ten’s timeline for a return picked up speed Saturday after Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Penn State’s James Franklin both appeared on ESPN’s College GameDay and stated their respective cases on why the league should be playing this season. Day’s spot on GameDay came one day after he tweeted a statement in the direction of the Big Ten office asking why other Power 5 conferences were kicking off and his league was not.
Warren announced on Aug. 11 his conference was postponing its football season with hopes of playing in the spring due to overwhelming coronavirus concerns and too many unknowns related to the nationwide pandemic. At the time, Big Ten presidents decided it was unsafe to move forward and shortly thereafter, the Pac-12 announced similar plans.
“There’s been a lot of meetings. Meetings with our coaches, ADs … this is something, really for the last couple months, this has been an around the clock endeavor,” Warren said in August. “The Big Ten has been in existence for 125 years and hopefully for many, many years in the future. We’ll continue to discuss these issues and try to remain positive. This is a very, very trying time. This is a day you hope in your career you never have to deal with, but that’s not the case in life.”
What followed was varying degrees of distrust within the conference from the league’s leadership down to its head coaches. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields’ petition on behalf of players fell on deaf ears in Indianapolis, and what followed was a protest involving parents of Big Ten athletes who wanted to play.
Those frustrated parents and players should be in a happier mood now that Big Ten football is scheduled to return next month.