If there has been a defining theme for this strangled Big Ten summer, it has been waiting. Waiting for news on the fate of the season. Awaiting response from a frozen conference office. And finally waiting for news of a turnaround.
“Our focus with the task force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our students’ athletes. Our goal has always been to return to competition so that all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love, ”Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a conference statement. “We are incredibly grateful for the collaborative work that our task force for returning to competition has done to ensure the health, safety and well-being of student athletes, coaches and administrators.”
The decision has been expected since the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COPC) met on Sunday night as optimism had permeated through the league. But as the days went by and the information evaporated, coaches and administrators around the league were frozen in anticipation.
the news leaked over a hot microphone of a Nebraska president Ted Carter. “data-reactid =” 24 “> In typical Big Ten fashion this most confusing summers, it was at the same time astonishing and not at all surprising when the news leaked out over a hot microphone of a Nebraska President Ted Carter.
Sources told Yahoo that several programs around the league met with their players over the past few days and outlined a plan for how they would practice and be ready to play before the October dates reported in the media. But they warned that the plan depended on the votes of the Big Ten COPC. It finally happened when coaching staffs around the league had two nervous days waiting for smoke signals from the Big Ten office.
Wednesday’s news comes more than a month after the same COPC group voted 11-3 to postpone the fall season. The conference doubled it nearly a week later when Warren said the Big Ten COPC “overwhelmingly supported the postponement of fall sports and will not be revisited again.”
The Big Ten was the first major conference to decide to postpone the fall and are now the first to reverse it. Pac-12 followed the big ten with the postponement, but does not intend to follow the big ten back to the field, as the situations in California and Oregon do not allow these teams to practice. From now on, three of the 10 FBS conferences will not play this fall – MAC, Pac-12 and Mountain West.
The delay from Sunday’s COPC meeting to today’s announcement came from completing details, answering last – minute questions and making sure the return messages came out better than the original announcement. When the Big Ten first announced its decision, Warren was investigated for not sharing enough details.
What changed in less than five weeks? A confluence of medical advances, fan blowbacks, political pressure and the successful start of the college football season elsewhere – especially in leagues like the ACC – all contributed to the league turning around. Sources said that the presence of daily quick tests, which has led to a successful start in the NFL, will be used in the big ten and will be an important part of the league’s messaging, which is why it is moving forward.
Per B1G sources, from now on, games will be played on campus without fans (except families). This situation could change. Quick testing should make 8 games in 8 weeks feasible. Title game 12/19.
– Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) September 16, 2020
In Sunday’s COPC call, sources told Yahoo Sports that the three different arms of the league’s return to competitive strength – medical, planning and television – were formally presented to all 14 of the top ten councils by presidents and chancellors. The most important medical voice has been Ohio State Chief Physician Dr. Jim Borchers, the medical co-chair of the task force for returning to competition. The presentation is said to be thorough and outlined a clear narrative as to why the league was better equipped to play than it was on August 11th.
“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps now being taken to better protect the health and safety of student athletes and the surrounding community,” said Ohio State Chief Physician Dr. Jim Borchers, in a conference statement. .
“The data we need to collect from testing and cardiac registry will make a major contribution to all 14 major ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and seek to mitigate the spread of the disease among larger communities.”
The league has made the decision to return in steps. The foundation for Sunday’s meeting was built with an important step Saturday. Eight of the league’s presidents and chancellors – a group known as the task force’s steering committee for returning to competition – heard a presentation on medical progress since the Big Ten’s first vote. They agreed to pass it on to the full 14 presidents and chancellors for a vote.
Along with tackling daily quick tests and ways to mitigate contract tracking, the big ten are also expected to reveal new information on myocarditis screening, and the league can certainly test for myocarditis in the wake of any positive tests.
The question now is about the schools’ ability to get their teams ready to play. Getting physically ready for the season is something that weighs heavily on Big Ten coaches. One of the league’s schools – Wisconsin – is on hiatus due to COVID-19 issues. Two more schools, Maryland and Iowa, just got back from a break.
How quickly these schools could be ready to play has been a looming issue, especially as the league tried to return to participate in the College Football Playoff. Wisconsin athletic instructor Barry Alvarez said Wisconsin should be ready to play even if they do not start rehearsing before Sept. 24 as planned.
“[Coach Paul Chryst] and I’m on the same page about this, ”Alvarez told Yahoo Sports on Saturday night. “We can have our guys ready. We could have a team ready in three weeks. We’re fine with that. ”
The fact that the big ten got to the point where they discussed returning is remarkable. After Warren made the decision on Aug. 11 and communicated the argument poorly immediately after, there was silence for more than a week from the Big Ten offices. Warren then said eight days later that the decision would not be reviewed again.
Around that time, pressure began to build on all sides – players, parents, coaches, athletic instructors, fans, TV partners and politicians. Many thought the Big Ten were in a hurry to make a decision, especially after building a fat schedule that allowed them to push games back and even cancel whole weeks to address the COVID-19-related disruptions that seemed inherent to the season.
A month later – and a lot of waiting – Big Ten is back on track to play.