Big Ten football season to begin Oct. 23-24
At best, it seemed unlikely. At worst, it was impossible.
Whatever the odds were a few weeks ago, they don’t matter now, because Big Ten football in the fall is back on schedule following a revote among conference chancellors and presidents.
Initially postponed until at least January on Aug. 11, the Big Ten football season is now slated to begin the weekend of Oct. 23-24, which would allow for nine weeks before the College Football Playoff selection show on Dec. 20, although an official schedule has not been released.
Players, coaches and trainers will have to undergo daily antigen tests, and results must be recorded before each practice or game.
“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Head Team Physician, The Ohio State University and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee.
Among other changes in COVID-19 testing protocols, players will not be allowed to return to game competition before 21 days after a positive diagnosis.
This past Thursday, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day released a statement on Twitter that expressed disappointment in communication from the Big Ten in the weeks, and said that his players wanted to know why they could not play while other conferences are.
ACC and Big 12 teams began their seasons over the weekend, while the SEC returns to action on Sept. 26.
In the first AP Poll of the year, the Buckeyes ranked No. 2 behind only Clemson, but they have since dropped from the rankings because they were no longer slated to play in the fall until now.
Redshirt junior offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, a first-team All-American last season, became the first Buckeye to opt out of the season to declare for the NFL Draft on Friday.
Preseason AP All-American cornerback Shaun Wade followed suit Monday morning, citing the circumstances and uncertainty surrounding the season.
The vote among conference presidents and chancellors was unanimous.
After long-standing confusion surrounding the details of the original vote, a lawsuit that eight Nebraska football players filed against the Big Ten helped uncover the previously clouded results, which were 11-3 in favor of postponing the season.
New Ohio State president Kristina Johnson voted in favor of playing in the fall, and told NBC4i Sept. 1 that she still saw a path toward fall football before information about a potential revote surfaced.
It was speculated that a revote might take place last weekend, but there was no decision announced from Big Ten administrators.
Pressure from parents of student-athletes in the conference was applied in the weeks following the conference’s initial decision through gatherings and protests, including one outside the Big Ten headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois, Aug. 21, and another outside Ohio Stadium in Columbus the following week.
Before either, though, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren issued an open letter to the conference community that said the decision to postpone would not be revisited.
Luckily for those players, parents and fans calling for a return to play, the decision was revisited after all.
Read the entire release from the Big Ten here.