The news Big Ten football fans, player and coaches have all been waiting for has arrived. The Big Ten will kick off its football season the weekend of October 24th. The announcement comes after the league’s presidents and chancellors unanimously voted to resume competition. The deciding factors were the ability to do daily testing and a stronger confidence in the latest medical information. The announcement came Wednesday morning, September 16th.
What The Schedule Looks Like
Each team will attempt to play eight games in eight weeks. That leaves no wiggle room before the Big Ten championship game on December 19th. That date will also feature an extra, cross-divisional game for each school, with seeded teams in each division squaring off. The Big Ten will complete its season before the December 20th Selection Day for the College Football Playoff. The official schedule should be released within the next couple days. Teams still need to determine who plays who in the cross over games. That is what is holding up that announcement.
How The Testing Will Work
The Big Ten’s daily rapid testing program will begin September 30th on all 14 campuses. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Each Big Ten team will designate a chief infection officer to report data about testing to the league. The league will make decisions about practice and competition based on team positivity rate and population positivity rate. Football players who test positive for COVID-19 must wait at least 21 days to return to competition. They will undergo “comprehensive cardiac testing” before being cleared by a cardiologist designated by each university for that purpose.
The Big Ten will use a color-coded system; green, orange and red, for both team positivity rates and population positivity rates. If the team’s positivity rate exceeds 5% or the population’s positivity rate exceeds 7.5%, the team must pause practice and competition for at least seven days. If the team’s positive rate is between 2% and 5% or the population’s positivity rate is between 3.5% and 7.5%, the team “must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention.” These are strict measures. Given the tight window they have to get in the season, any hiccups could put its credibility in jeopardy.
President Trump was heavily involved in pushing the Big Ten to return to football. He made saliva tests available for the league and expressed how important it was for one of the biggest leagues in college football to be out there this fall. He drew a lot of attention to a situation that could have flown under the radar had he not. As is his way, he is taking much of the credit.
Is The Pac-12 Next?
The Pac-12, which also postponed its fall football season, has not announced plans about when it might kick off. There have been rumors that mid-to-late November could be the earliest. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement Wednesday that, “universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from public health officials to start contact practice, and that the conference is monitoring the fires and air quality in the region.”