Purdue

Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Big Ten on hold until questions answered

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The University of Wisconsin chancellor said Tuesday that Big Ten football will remain on hold until there are answers to questions about COVID-19 testing and tracing, along with possible long-term heart issues related to the coronavirus.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank said once the Big Ten university leaders have their concerns addressed “we will try to plan a delayed season.”

A month after postponing games, conference leaders are considering playing a fall season after all. There were weekend meetings on a plan to begin play as soon as mid-October.

Blank, appearing at a congressional hearing on compensation for college athletes, was asked by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) about the Big Ten’s decision last month and whether the conference might reverse course.

“There were several main reasons for that,” Blank said. “One was that we were uncertain we could do the level of testing and contact tracing that we needed to keep athletes safe. Secondly, there was this growing evidence about heart-related myocarditis and that evidence was uncertain and it wasn’t clear what it means and we wanted to know more. There were a few other minor reasons.”

She would not predict which way a vote to return to play would go.

“Decisions within the Big Ten are largely majority based decisions, but I’ll be honest, we almost always decide everything by consensus. We very rarely take votes,” Blank said.

A court filing earlier this month disclosed that Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 in favor of postponing all fall sports. Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State voted against the move.

When the next decision comes from the Big Ten was unclear, though KETV in Omaha posted video Tuesday of University of Nebraska President Ted Carter saying, “We’re getting ready to announce the Huskers and Big Ten football tonight,” before he spoke at an unrelated news conference.

Carter later told KLKN in Lincoln that statement was taken out of context.

“When there is any news to share or confirm regarding any Big Ten board decision, it will be announced by the Big Ten,” University of Nebraska spokeswoman Deb Fiddelke said.

Purdue’s Brohm proposes running 2 football seasons in 2021

Nikos Frazier | Journal & Courier, Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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INDIANAPOLIS — Purdue coach Jeff Brohm believes football can be played safely this spring and again next fall if university presidents and medical teams agree.

On Thursday, two days after the Big Ten postponed fall sports, Brohm released a detailed, seven-page proposal that calls for an eight-game season in the spring and a 10-game season next fall, a reduction in padded practices and a months-long break from the sport between seasons.

“I always thought we (the conference) should have had a backup spring plan ready. I was frustrated they didn’t,” he told The Associated Press during a telephone interview. “There are going to be some people that maybe don’t agree with it. But at the same time, if we really play want to play football then let’s make this season work.”

At least it’s a conversation-starter as one of the bleakest weeks in college football history comes to an end. Leagues including the Big Ten, Pac-12 and others have called off fall football even as the ACC, Big 12 and SEC push ahead amid uncertainty and concern.

Brohm used the anger and frustration about the Big Ten’s announcement to motivate him to come up with a solution. He finished the document Thursday morning.

The plan calls for teams to report Jan. 16 for a two-week training camp before progressing to four weeks of practice, with two mandatory off days each week and only two padded practices each week. Eight conference-only games would be played from Feb. 27-April 17, with no bye weeks, before a four- or six-team playoff in May.

Most players would then get a three-month respite from mandatory workouts before pre-camp work begins July 19. Teams would then play a 10-game season from Oct. 2-Dec. 11, with one bye week per team and one padded practice per week. A playoff would be held the first two weeks of January.

Critics might contend college players should not be playing up to 22 games over an 11-month period. Big Ten officials did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about the plan.

“Can you have spring football and recover enough from a neurological and muscular, skeletal, point of view to then proceed with a full fall season?” NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline asked. “Those are active discussions happening right now.”

Brohm’s answer: NFL teams play up to 25 games over a five-month period and college football’s playoff teams were averaging as many as 1.875 games per month before the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, Brohm believes, a spring season would give medical teams more time to collect information about vaccines and treatments and potentially avoid the ugly look of empty stadiums.

One potentially significant problem if the ACC, Big 12 and SEC do play this fall – separate playoff formats and split champions. Of course, medical complications could change everything yet again in which case Brohm would welcome those schools to the table.

“This plan would work best if we were all in it together,” Brohm said. “That I can’t predict. But I think you can adjust, and I think it can work extremely well if all of college football is on this plan.”