We’ve seen a drip, drip, drip of information over the last several months that has been leading us toward what felt like an inevitable conclusion. With various levels of college football pushing their season to the spring or cancelling outright, it felt like the risk of losing big time college football was rising.
While the risk was mitigated by the enormous amounts of money at stake for the athletic department budgets, college communities and TV executives alike, it was a risk nonetheless.
Over the last week, the pace of the drip accelerated. Despite releasing a revised, conference-only schedule on Wednesday, reports surface Sunday evening that the Big Ten was on the brink of postponing the 2020 college football season.
Today, those reports turned from initial to confirmed as Big Ten programs cancelled practices and postponed media availability Monday morning. A growing number of media outlets have reported independently verifying the conference has now met and intend to announce a postponement on Tuesday.
The conference’s presidents reportedly voted over the weekend with 12 schools in favor of postponing the season, two in favor of moving forward with the revised schedule released last week. While unconfirmed, Iowa was reportedly among the two in favor of moving forward, along with Nebraska.
It’s worth noting that despite a vote on football and an announcement on fans in the stands, the University of Iowa has yet to even make a decision on how, when or if students will be on campus this fall.
It became clear Sunday evening the Iowa players were in favor of playing the season. The hashtag #WeWantToPlay swept across the player’s newly available Twitter accounts.
That was supported by a letter from a group of the players’ parents to UI President Bruce Harreld, as well as the broader college athletics community.
Hawkeye parents want to see their son's get a chance to play football this fall. They are passing along this letter. pic.twitter.com/7Kl8PbxXFL— Tom Kakert (@HawkeyeReport) August 10, 2020
Note sending to Iowa President along with my letter advocating to play pic.twitter.com/DA2FmwVDOt— Maurice Goodson (@mogoouchie) August 10, 2020
The disconnect between the desires of the players and coaches who are directly impacted by the decision to move the season and the decision-makers themselves is quite stark and has caused frustration on social media.
As the reports continue roll in, players have clearly gotten word and are not thrilled with the idea of moving their season against their wishes.
The thing that bothers me the most is that we were used as lab rats in this whole thing. We just got our schedule and now something has dramatically changed?? Where is the leadership from the big ten?— Mark Kallenberger (@mkallenberger71) August 10, 2020
The conference has been audibly silent on the matter. The choice to halt league activities and media availability while not making official statements is puzzling. With reports the PAC-12 is also considering a postponement with votes to be held today and tomorrow, it’s difficult not to wonder if the Big Ten is simply waiting to have company in their decision to ignore the input of players, parents, coaches and fans.
The full fallout from this remains to be seen. With other conferences, including the SEC, Big 12 and ACC all reportedly looking to move forward with a fall season, there is sure to be an imbalance of power among the nation’s top conferences. With three set to move forward, they control the TV networks and the money that entails. In a world built on facilities arms races and recruiting, that’s sure to be a selling point for years to come.
In the shorter term, we could still see an impact on current players who have a desire to play now. We’ve seen numerous FCS players hit the transfer portal when we learned there would be postponements at that level. It’s not unreasonable to expect something similar for Big Ten schools over the coming days and weeks.
We may never now the positive impact of the conference’s pending decision. While we can watch from the sidelines as other conferences move forward, we will never know how many players may have become infected, hospitalized or worse.
What we will know soon enough is the impact a delay or cancellation has on the lives of players, families and coaches, as well as the budgets of the very universities which have voted to push back the season.