With optimism growing, Big Ten aims for football's return in October, vote may be soon

The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren.

The Big Ten Conference’s 14 presidents and chancellors reportedly were pleased Sunday with the presentation of a medical subcommittee outlining the steps needed to safely begin a delayed football season and could vote on the matter sometime this week.

The group, which voted to postpone the season on Aug. 11 by an 11-3 margin because of coronavirus concerns, agreed to meet again Monday. A decision to start a football season would mean the return of the sport as early as Oct. 17, according to reports by Yahoo and ESPN.

The Detroit Free Press reported there was reason for optimism that a season could start after the presidents and chancellors heard about medical plans and advancements, especially in the area of testing, since the vote to postpone was taken last month.

The medical subcommittee, part of the Big Ten’s Return to Competition Task Force, has been working to come up with conference-wide protocols and procedures to ensure the safe return of football. A particular area of attention was finding a way to develop daily testing.

Published reports said the panel met Saturday with the Big Ten’s steering committee of eight presidents and chancellors, who voted to have the presentation made to the full body.

The subcommittee is co-chaired by Sandy Barbour, Penn State’s vice president of athletics, and Dr. James Borchers, Ohio State football’s team physician, who delivered the presentation to the presidents.

Before a vote on football could be taken, the presidents and chancellors also would have to discuss a possible starting date and how many games would be played, and consult with the league’s television partners on a full schedule for 2020.

Nine votes are needed for a motion to pass.

An Oct. 17 start to the season could allow the Big Ten to be considered for selection into the College Football Playoff. The conference would be able to schedule eight games with a bye week, and the two division winners would meet for the Big Ten championship on Dec. 19. Four teams will be selected for the playoff on Dec. 20.

The Big Ten has been the target of much criticism since commissioner Kevin Warren announced the postponement of the season. Coaches such as Penn State’s James Franklin and Ohio State’s Ryan Day have expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of transparency in the decision-making process.

“We’ve never really fully been told or understood why this season was shut down in the first place,” Franklin told ESPN Radio last week. “And then there hasn’t been a whole lot of communication since. When I say communication, we’ve had meetings, but I’m talking about really understanding why and what and how we got here.”

Parent groups have sent emails and letters to the Big Ten office and have been outspoken on social media about allowing their sons to play. President Donald Trump has spoken with Warren about bringing football back and has used Twitter to reinforce that desire.