A Big Ten committee of coaches, athletic directors and medical personnel met Friday to discuss options for a delayed 2020 football season that could begin around Thanksgiving weekend or in early January, according to multiple reports.
Citing a person with direct knowledge of the conference’s discussions, the Associated Press reported that the talks are in their early stages. The discussions include the consideration of the wishes of the Big Ten’s broadcast partners and the possibility of indoor stadiums serving as neutral-site venues, the report said.
The league also would have to meet COVID-19 benchmarks, including testing capacity and availability, testing accuracy and transmission rates, in the conference’s 11 states before competition can start.
The AP said a detailed schedule plan could be made public in about two weeks.
The conference’s originally scheduled fall football season was canceled on Aug. 11 after presidents and chancellors said uncertainty about coronavirus would make it too risky for athletes to participate. The same group would have the final say on any plans by the committee.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel first reported about the possibility of a season beginning Thanksgiving weekend. The Athletic later quoted Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith as saying that a late fall start to the season was “a real possibility.”
Penn State head coach James Franklin said last week that a 2020 season must be saved, and must be played at a time “that’s not going to impact, or have the least amount of impact, on the 2021 season.”
Depending on when the season starts, the Big Ten could play either an eight-game or a 10-game schedule, with a championship game between the two division winners ending the season.
The decision by Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren to wipe out the fall schedule continues to be met by pushback. Eight Nebraska football players have filed suit seeking to overturn the move.
Warren said in an Aug. 19 letter that the vote to cancel the season “will not be revisited.”