When the Big Ten canceled its 2020 college football season for the fall, players, fans and even President Donald Trump revolted against one of the biggest Power 5 conferences in college sports. It sounds like those efforts to bring back Big Ten football might have paid off.
The Ohio State Buckeyes would be one of the biggest programs impacted by a suspended football season. The Buckeyes entered the year with one of their most talented rosters ever and were a favorite to make the College Football Playoff. Suddenly, everything then unraveled when conference officials suddenly canceled the 2020 season.
Fortunately, the tide seems to be shifting in the Big Ten with Ohio State’s president offering hope for football fans across the country.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren took part in a phone call with President Trump on Tuesday, per ESPN. It was a step toward bringing college football back this fall, with Warren outlining what the conference needs for student-athletes to return and Trump making it clear football needs to return as soon as possible.
A short time later, Dan Patrick reported on “The Dan Patrick Show” that the Big Ten could kick off its college football season by Oct. 10 if certain safety measures and COVID-19 protocols were met by every program, with assistance coming from the federal government.
The Big Ten initially hoped to begin its 2020 season in the winter by playing in indoor stadiums given playing in the spring might be impossible. A short time later, the conference started discussing moving up its timetable with the 2020 season starting around Thanksgiving.
On Tuesday, Ohio State President Dr. Kristina Johnson provided even more reason for college football fans to be optimistic. In an interview with NBC 4i, Johnson said she is very hopeful that the Buckeyes will play football this fall. Of course, it will be dependent on how student-athletes, coaches and fans handle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we all do our part, wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash our hands then you know I think we’ve got the procedures in place to go forward,” Johnson said, via NBC 4i.
There’s plenty of work to be done. As The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach reported after President Trump’s call with the Big Ten, key hurdles remain before Ohio State, or any of its conference foes, can take the field.
The Big Ten wants assistance with gaining access to rapid testing, contact tracing and to be provided with better medical equipment to conduct cardiac testing among student-athletes. There will also be strict safety protocols in place and approval will be needed from local, state and federal officials.
While there are many issues to work through, the Big Ten is clearly starting to change course. Just a few weeks after the conference announced none of its teams would play college football this fall, there is now a real chance programs like Ohio State and Michigan take the field in 2020.