The rumors have been swirling for weeks — pretty much as soon as the Big Ten chose to “postpone” the fall season — about when football will return to the conference. First it was spring, then it was January, then it was around Thanksgiving, and now it’s potentially mid to late October. Reportedly, the earliest date football could be played seems to be Oct. 17, but even that seems optimistic.
The Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors has been having meetings since Sunday, but an official vote, or “consensus,” from the council on when to pick up the fall season has not yet happened. That is expected to happen at some point this week, though, and it could come as early as today.
According to KETV in Omaha, Nebraska, prior to the announcement of Nebraska’s five-year, $92-million research deal for the school’s National Strategic Research Institute, University of Nebraska-Lincoln President Ted Carter was heard on a “hot mic” telling Bob Hinson, director of the National Strategic Research Institute, that the Cornhuskers and the Big Ten Conference are getting ready to make the announcement tonight.
The hot mic moment has been picked up by several national writers now.
Nebraska President Ted Carter says this morning, not knowing he's on a hot mic, before a news conference: "We're getting ready to announce the Huskers and Big Ten football tonight” via @KETZ— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 15, 2020
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Carter added that it is a “good move in the right direction.” However, Carter also told Lincoln news station KLKN that his comments were taken out of context.
University of Nebraska president Ted Carter was heard on hot mic saying that an announcement will come tonight regarding the #Huskers and the #BigTen football season.— Yousef Nasser (@YousefKLKN) September 15, 2020
I asked him about the comments. He says they were taken out of context. pic.twitter.com/SP0x5ZqCtF
“All I said is, ‘There’s work going on,’ and I remain cautiously optimistic — like everybody else — that we’ll get to discovering when it’s safe to play,” Carter said.
While Carter is president of the university, it is actually Chancellor Ronnie Green who is Nebraska’s representative on the Council of Presidents and Chancellors.
Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank was non-committal when asked about the return of Big Ten football at a name, image and likeness hearing with a Senate subcommittee today.
Blank also recently said each member school of the Big Ten is going to “move together” on this. Reportedly, nine votes (out of the 14) are needed to play, and there were rumors that certain schools would opt out even if the rest of the league moves forward. However, according to Blank, it will be all or nothing.
There are so many moving parts here — the Wisconsin football and men’s hockey programs are currently in a two-week shut down due to COVID-19 results, and Michigan State has asked its students to self-quarantine after more than 340 students tested positive for the coronavirus, while other Big Ten schools have dealt with similar circumstances over the past several weeks.
The council will not approve a restart to the season unless it feels it is safe to do so. Testing and contract tracings are the key factors here, and with the possibility of rapid testing now potentially being available to the league, this could sway the league to reverse course from its original vote (11 for postponing the fall season, and three for continuing on) and start some time in October or November.
It seems as if the Big Ten is trending toward restarting the fall season, with perhaps an eight-game schedule in a nine-week period, and a conference title game on Dec. 19, but whether that decision comes today, later this week, next week or beyond — or not at all — still isn’t clear.
For now, the saga continues.