3-2-1: It's about time
Rewind to a little bit more than a month ago and today would have felt like an impossibility, an announcement for the resumption of football, albeit getting a late start.
Bully for the Big 12 and ACC for already starting their season and congrats to the SEC for starting later this month, that is all well and good. But for our purposes, we cannot be any more happy that the Big Ten has come to its senses and will resume football with an October 23rd start date.
But we also know that a "resumption" really is only a first step and there will be a lot of hard work between now and the start of the season and that work will continue each and every day because we saw how quickly a season can be taken away.
There will be plenty of time to get into all of those details and we will touch upon a few of those items in this edition of the 3-2-1 presented by our friends at Hague Water Conditioning. It has been a long time coming and finally gives us something positive to talk about after a (too) long offseason of discontent.
THREE THINGS WE LEARNED
1 - What's the plan?
Well, we sort of know a plan. We know that it is an eight-game regular season with a plus-one, a very different plus-one than what we have been used to seeing.
Finish second in your division after the final week of the season and you are waiting for a bowl game, but not now, with a creative final week set-up where the champions of each division will still play but now the second place teams will face off as will the third and so on. Where those other games will be played is yet to be determined but the expectation is that the championship game will be in Indy, as in years past.
When will we know a schedule? Soon, maybe by the end of this week. Ohio State AD Gene Smith said on a Wednesday call that we could have it delivered by this week. Purdue's AD, Mike Bobinski said during a teleconference that the schedules would come from the original nine-game league schedules from the original Big Ten schedules (version 1.0, we are now going into 3.0).
It will be a four home game and four road game schedule, so things will still have to be sorted out there and there will be some geometry that needs to be sorted out to get that all working. You would end up playing six teams from your division, and two crossover games. No open weeks, so this better all fit.
Those are the fun moving parts that people want to talk about. Of course there are the testing measures in place that are very important for this plan to happen and it has been covered elsewhere but the quick and dirty version of this is as follows. There will be daily testing, if a player tests positive, it is 21 days before they can return, and that is based on the 14 days for standard CDC guidelines but also another seven-day period for a myocarditis evaluation. If you show signs of positivity on that heart condition, you are done for the year.
There will also be benchmarks in place for "team" (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered) and "population" (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk) rates that will have to be met and if a team number is greater than five-percent of the population number is greater than 7.5-percent, then a seven-day shut down (at minimum) is put into place.
All of those numbers and meanings will be further dissected as time goes on.
Daily testing will start on September 30th, 2020, meaning that with games starting a little bit more than three weeks beyond that, now is the time for everyone to get things in order before the clock really starts and shutdowns could come back into play.
One of the biggest questions that has been asked is if this really does get Ohio State (and the Big Ten) back in line with the other leagues who are playing for consideration for the College Football Playoff.
The simple answer is yes.
This is an odd year and there will be a lot of campaigning and this may be the year that the look test means more than anything. Leagues are all set to play different numbers of games and there is no promise that each team will see that full schedule realized. We could have teams only complete seven, eight or up to 11 and 12 games. It will be on the committee to pick the best four teams and place them in the playoff.
Ohio State and the Big Ten have a schedule plan in place (even with no schedule at this moment) to position the conference to be very much in the discussion.
2 - What schedules will look like
While the word has been delivered that the discussion of actual schedules has not started, we are not completely buying that. Putting a schedule together takes a lot of time and based on some things that have been said and some things we have learned, we feel that it should not be a long process, at least the actual work may not be long, it may take the league a minute to report on it, since that seems to be par for the course.
First question that I have been asked is 'what about Michigan' and 'when will that game be?'.
According to several people that I trust, look for that game to move back to its rightful position at the end of the season. No, it won't be in conjunction with that last week (ish) of November, it would be December 12th, but we really believe it will fall back to its spot and even better, will be that proverbial first pick of the networks and because of that, will be on FOX with Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt on the call.
We would also expect the Ohio State versus Penn State game to be high on the list and probably end up as part of the ESPN/ABC portfolio with the Michigan game going to FOX. We are using logic there, more than anything else. Maybe that is too Ohio State-centric of a view, but we think we are in the right there.
As we mentioned earlier, the eight-game schedule is going to be born from the nine-game schedule and the 10-game schedule is out the door.
What does that mean? Here is all you need to know. The Purdue game that was added to the schedule from 1.0 to 2.0 is off the table if that report is true. So no return to the house of nightmares for the Buckeyes, that is gone.
You also would have to play the six divisional games, which means you would lock in six known opponents and figure that you would have home dates against Indiana, Rutgers and Michigan with road dates at Michigan State, Maryland and Penn State.
Then there are the other two games, and that would come from a pool of three games, home against Nebraska, home against Iowa and at Illinois.
We know that Ohio State needs one home and one road date. That does not mean that the Big Ten couldn't flip things around to make things fit. But let's just say for the sake of argument, that the Illinois game in Champaign (Ill.) rides.
That leaves the two home games of Nebraska and Iowa. There are great subplots on both of those games. Everyone remembers the last time Ohio State and Iowa played, but they also remember that game was in Iowa City (Iowa) and not in Columbus. Whereas Ohio State and Nebraska fans are now in a deep, deep bromance. That would be a ratings bonanza and would have all sorts of fun story angles to promote.
Wouldn't that be a tremendous week one game? Welcome back to the Big Ten, here are the two teams (and no disrespect to Iowa who was also a 'YES' vote to start with) that fought the hardest, at least in public, to get this season back going.
If we had to guess, the season will be rounded out with Nebraska (home) and Illinois (road).
3 - No tickets
Unless you are related to a player, you are not getting in the stadium as a fan. We know that much. At least for now.
The window has always been left open for "at a later date" but those reviews don't often lead to good results, so just plan on watching these games with your friends and loved ones.
But Ohio State did ask the media for its help in relaying a message to be safe during these times of getting together to watch these games. Regardless of what your stance is on masks and the transmission of COVID at this time, we are seeing a season held together by some very thin strands and it would just be for the best interest of everyone not to push boundaries, if you want to see this season happen and finish and maybe result in some special results.
We know that local establishments will be more than happy to welcome fans in with open arms (distanced) to watch games, but everyone please be smart about things.
We went 40-plus days with the thought of no football once. We are not sure that anyone could handle the thought of having to go through that again because there are no third options here.
TWO QUESTIONS THIS WEEK
1 - Will Ryan Day "hang 100 on Michigan?"
Isn't it great to be talking about life before the shutdown of football?
Remember that all of these coaches had to start getting along to try and get the sport back and played in a timely and meaningful manner?
Does that all go away? Does Ryan Day remember how angry he was at Jim Harbaugh, at least in reports from a coaches call?
Is there going to be some sort of pressure if this is a year of the looks test to just open it up and run over people, if you are able?
How long will teams be able to keep its starters out there, with depth likely being an issue as we are not completely out of the woods in terms of testing issues and things of that nature?
There are a lot of questions that are in play when it comes to what we may see in terms of age-old and new rivalries that have been born out of this whole situation.
Ain't it grand talking about "what" rather than "if"?
2 - Shaun Wade? Wyatt Davis?
We should find out pretty soon. We know from AD Gene Smith that conversations have already been in place with Wyatt Davis about the upcoming season and communications have been initiated with Shaun Wade, after each had opted out with no clarity on a season and what that might look like.
Well, now we have that clarity, or at least the start.
Neither have apparently signed with an agent and Ohio State would love to have both back.
Both just want to play, and that opportunity would be there, but sometimes once you close a door, it is hard to open it back up.
Ohio State fans need to respect the decision that both have made, and might make in the coming hours and days. They have both been tremendous ambassadors for the program and the university and both will go on to have successful NFL careers.
But if you are an Ohio State fan, you just hope there is still one more chapter left in their collegiate books.
We feel good about the chances that at least one comes back, if not both... but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves.
ONE PREDICTION: Ohio State will play in the B1G Championship Game
Way to go, Noon. Way to go out on a limb.
96 hours ago I am sure every Ohio State fan would have been thrilled to even think about that news.
Ohio State is still the bully on the block, with or without Wade/Davis.
Ohio State is going to have a lot to prove.
We don't need to see the schedule, we like Ohio State to run roughshod over the East and make it to the championship game and beyond.