The heavily anticipated report on Big Ten’s return to football became official today after Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren issued a press release through the conference’s social media accounts.
Following the Big Ten’s announcement, Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez sent out a press release.
“I am thrilled for our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and fans that Big Ten football — specifically BADGER FOOTBALL — will return in October,” Alvarez said.
While the information provided by both the Big Ten and Alvarez did not go into scheduling specifics, what we do know is that the season will start Oct. 23, with most games in the conference being played Oct. 24. Though a week later than many initially assumed, this does still keep the conference on track to be eligible for the College Football Playoff.
The four playoff teams will be announced Dec. 20. This date is exactly eight weeks and one day after the first Saturday of the initial Big Ten season. Though we still don’t know anything official about the schedule, what we do know is that it is assumed to be eight games in eight weeks, so no bye weeks. Then, the conference championship one week later. With all of the testing, practicing and no off-weeks, this will certainly be one huge experiment.
The press release included a heavy breakdown of protocols. There are a lot of steps, including advanced testing that will be administered daily. Additionally, teams will no longer be allowed to play or practice if the rate of positive COVID-19 tests surpasses 7.5%, and polymerase testing to confirm all positive cases.
“The health and well-being of our student-athletes and staff remains our top priority, so we will continue to emphasize proper protocols and smart decision-making,” Alvarez said.
The Big Ten report will keep all athletes who tested positive away from football for at least 21 days. That’s three full weeks, and in a season this short you can not afford to lose one of your best players for nearly half of it. There is certainly an increased emphasis on keeping your players healthy.
The protocol is much different from other conferences that require their athletes who tested positive to only sit out two weeks. This is definitely an interesting wrinkle thrown in by the Big Ten.
All looked lost for Big Ten football this fall, but the heavy pushback from players, coaches, fans and almost the entire college football landscape has forced the Big Ten to change their plans. While this is great for every Big Ten team, it is even better for a team like Wisconsin that is projected to have a great year.
The Badgers have a stacked roster and — assuming Ohio State does what everyone thinks they will — they are looking like the second-best team in the conference. So, like last year, Badger football is looking at another potential Rose Bowl appearance, or even an opportunity in their first College Football Playoff.