The midwest is no stranger to a good-old-fashioned Turkey Bowl. Regardless of rain, heat or even snow – it’s impossible to miss the football games played throughout the region during Thanksgiving weekend.
Now, some of those games may be played in much bigger stadiums.
I can confirm the Big Ten is possibly looking at starting the season the weekend after Thanksgiving week, per a source. But just a possibility at this point. January-ish start still the focus for now. @jaypo1961 first reported the Nov. possibility.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) August 28, 2020
The late-November start would likely provide an eight to 10-game season for the conference. That would mean football games played in the upper-midwest through January.
According to Yahoo’s Pete Thamel, the discussions are being held mostly by conference coaches and athletic directors. The clear choice for coaches is to start the season as early as possible. The hurdle, however, will be in getting school presidents to agree.
The 2020 season was canceled earlier in the month by Big Ten school presidents and chancellors. The announcement was somewhat abrupt and appeared to catch some programs off guard. Since then, there have been reports of everything from schools breaking from the conference to playing in the spring.
Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reported that whether the season were to start in the winter or spring, it would only happen if “medical metrics are met & approved by B1G university presidents.”
Big Ten considering options to play in winter or spring but only if medical metrics are met & approved by B1G university presidents, sources told @Stadium. “Remember presidents were against playing, so they would have to be moved to change their stances,” source said— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 28, 2020
One of the hardest to convince may be Michigan State President Samuel Stanley, a medical doctor and biomedical researcher. Stanley told reporters there are concerns not only about current testing and response time, but longterm risks of those infected. The 2020 season is especially messy for the Spartans, who are expected to be in a rebuilding stage with a new head coach in Mel Tucker.
Making things more complicated, it’s not just the presidents who would need to agree. There would also need to be some sort of governmental support to play games.
Even if all of the hurdles are cleared and some sort of a 2020 season is played, it’s difficult to imagine what weight it would carry. For a conference that likes to measure itself against the likes of the SEC, a delayed start of any kind may make postseason play an impossibility. Three of the Power 5 conferences – the SEC, ACC and Big XII – all plan to start their seasons in September or early October at the latest. A two-month delay would make bowl games incredibly difficult to navigate logistically.
On top of that, fans also have unsettled feelings on the concept of spring football. Nearly two-thirds of national fans said they wouldn’t want to see games played in the spring if it affected the 2021 season.
There is no timetable set for the Big Ten. At the rate things have been evolving, a new plan could be on the table by the end of the weekend. However, there is a very real push to make the 2020 season happen in some form.