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As Big Ten nears announcement on football season, Oct. 17 crystallizes as likely starting date

As Big Ten nears announcement on football season, Oct. 17 crystallizes as likely starting date

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It simply can't go on much longer.

In the midst of rumors and conflicting reports, a few consistencies crystallized as the Big Ten Conference seemingly moved toward resolution on whether it'll have a 2020 fall football season. 

It's clear that the matter is in the hands of the Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors, which is expected to vote this week. A decision could be revealed as soon as Tuesday on a proposal that apparently has Oct. 17 as the starting date for the season. The council voted 11-3 on Aug. 11 to postpone all fall sports. Nine votes are needed to start the season. UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green is Nebraska's representative on the council.

Multiple sources told the Journal Star that Oct. 17 is by far the most likely start date. Starting then would allow conference teams to play eight games in a nine-week window, with a conference championship game Dec. 19. The College Football Playoff field is scheduled to be revealed Dec. 20. 

Ohio State was ranked No. 2 in The Associated Press preseason poll. The Buckeyes have pushed hard for weeks — privately and publicly — to play a fall season, as has Nebraska. OSU, NU and Iowa voted Aug. 11 to play. The Huskers could be ready for a game in three weeks, head coach Scott Frost has said. 

But there are complications with other teams in the league. Wisconsin paused workouts for two weeks Sept. 9, and Maryland paused Sept. 4. Penn State did the same last week. Those situations are especially relevant in the context of University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank's comments Monday during a teleconference with reporters.

“I will say we’re all going to move together in the Big Ten,” she said. “We’re all going to play or not if we possibly can. This isn’t going to be a school-by-school thing.”

According to multiple sources, rapid-response testing for COVID-19 has helped turn the tide in the Big Ten in favor of playing sports this year. The medical subcommittee of the conference's return-to-play task force reportedly presented presidents and chancellors with at least four rapid-response antigen tests that could allow teams to test daily for the coronavirus and significantly decrease the amount of necessary contact tracing.

Contrary to rumors — not to mention a report Monday morning by national radio talk show host Dan Patrick — all 14 Big Ten teams will attempt to play if the chancellors and presidents vote to start the season, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

“There are a variety of things that have changed since we first made that decision,” Blank said of the Aug. 11 vote. “As you probably know again by reading the paper, the council of chancellors and presidents met on Sunday night. We had a very good discussion.

"We'll continue to look at those proposals. I'm not going to say anything more about it at this point.”


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