Big Ten conference to open Oct. 23-24
Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all.
Less than five weeks after pushing fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday and said it plans to open its football season the weekend of Oct. 23-24.
All 14 teams will play eight regular-season games in eight weeks, plus have an opportunity to play a ninth game on Dec. 19 when the conference championship game is in Indianapolis ä if all goes well. That should give the Big Ten an opportunity to compete for the national championship.
The Big Ten said its Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously Tuesday to restart sports. The vote last month was 11-3 to postpone, with Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska voting against.
“We’re in a better place, regardless of how we got here or how painful it was during the time we waited to get this moment,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said. “That’s all behind us. What’s beautiful is that we have a process and protocols in place that’s based on science and based on lessons learned since Aug. 11.”
The decision to play came after sharp pressure from coaches, players, parents and even President Donald Trump, all of them pushing for a Big Ten football season. The conference is home to a number of battleground states in the November election, and Trump swiftly applauded the move in a tweet.
The emergence of daily, rapid-response COVID-19 testing, not available when university leaders decided to pull the plug on the fall season, helped trigger a re-vote. The Big Ten said it will begin daily antigen testing of all its fall sport athletes, coaches and staff Sept. 30.