The Big Ten will play college football in 2020.
The conference reversed its Aug. 11 decision Wednesday and will proceed with a college football season in the fall. Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren announced the decision made by the 14 university presidents in the conference.
What does that mean for the Big Ten? Here are the answers to all the need-to-know questions.
What led to the Big Ten’s reversal vote?
In the initial decision to postpone the season, Warren focused on health concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors initially voted 11-3 to postpone the season.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Warren said in a statement on Aug. 11.
Testing and contact tracing were issues, but myocarditis also was a concern in those discussions. Those safety concerns have been addressed with rapid-testing protocols that should make playing football safer for all 14 schools. The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to resume the season based on information from the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force.
Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All teams to participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives. Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2020
On Sept. 29, the first presidential debate of the 2020 election, president Donald Trump erroneously claimed to have brought back Big Ten football; while he did speak to Warren — the Big Ten confirmed it in a Sept. 1 statement — it was not up to the Big Ten commissioner to make a unilateral decision on the return of football.
That was confirmed by an unnamed Big Ten president:
“President Trump had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact the deliberations,” the president told NBC News on Sept. 16. “In fact, when his name came up, it was a negative, because no one wanted this to be political.”
When will the Big Ten season start?
The Big Ten regular season will start the weekend of Oct. 23-24 and run through Dec. 12.
How many games will the Big Ten play?
Nine games. The Big Ten will play eight games in eight weeks with no bye weeks, and that leaves little margin for error should be a COVID-19 outbreak happen for a team in that stretch.
The schedule does have a plus-one feature built in. Each team will play a ninth game based on their standings the East and West divisions. So, the first-place teams will play in the Big Ten championship game, and the other teams will play a cross-over based on how they finished in the first eight games.
Big Ten football schedule 2020
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said the Big Ten schedule will be released later this week.
Big Ten COVID-19 testing
The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches and trainers and all other individuals on the field to undergo daily testing. Test results must be completed before each practice and game.
Daily testing begins Sept. 30. According to the Big Ten, the earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis. The Big Ten also will require all 14 schools to establish a cardiac registry to examine student-athletes who test positive for COVID-19.
The conference also has a color-coded system based on a seven-day average of tests to determine whether teams can continue practicing. If a team hits “red” then it must stop competition for a minimum of seven days.
Is the Big Ten eligible for the College Football Playoff?
The Big Ten will have its conference championship game on Dec. 19 – which is one day before the College Football Playoff pairings will be announced. Now, there are Power 5 conferences participating in the 2020 college football season. The Pac-12 is the only one of those five conferences not participating in college football.
Will fans be allowed to attend games?
Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said there will no public sale of tickets. The conference is working to make sure families of student-athletes will be allowed to attend home and away games.