Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press,

Michigan-Ohio State finale highlights 3rd Big Ten schedule

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The Big Ten’s third football schedule of the 2020 season is highlighted by Michigan-Ohio State on Dec. 12, the final day of the conference’s regular-season and the latest date the rivals have ever played.

The Big Ten released an eight-games-in-eight-weeks schedule on Saturday that will start the weekend of Oct. 24. Just three days ago, the conference reversed course and decided to play a fall football season after postponing on Aug. 11 because of concerns about COVID-19.

Week 1 features Nebraska at Ohio State, two teams that were at the forefront of the grassroots push to play fall ball in the Big Ten. Michigan will play at Minnesota in the Little Brown Jug rivalry to open the season.

In Week 2, Ohio State will play at Penn State on Halloween. The Buckeyes at No. 2 and Penn State at No. 7 were the highest ranked Big Ten teams in the preseason AP Top 25.

The regular season concludes as usual with the Buckeyes and Wolverines facing off. Michigan and Ohio State have played 103 times, but never later than November.

The Big Ten championship game will be played Dec. 19 in Indianapolis, matching the East and West Division champions. The conference has said it will give all its teams the opportunity to play on Dec. 19. The tentative plan is to match teams with similar finishes in the respective division standings.

Big Ten on hold until questions answered

Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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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.

Report: Big Ten presidents to reconsider fall football

Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Big Ten football might be making a comeback.

Big Ten university presidents will meet Sunday to hear a presentation about playing a fall football season after all — maybe as soon as mid-October — amid pressure to kick off from parents, players, coaches and even the president.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press the Big Ten’s Return to Competition Task Force met Saturday. The medical subcommittee, comprised of athletic directors, doctors and athletic training staffers, made a presentation to a subgroup of eight presidents and chancellors. The presentation included improvements in the availability of rapid, daily COVID-19 testing.

The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Big Ten was not making its efforts to return to play public, said it was a “positive meeting” that led to the scheduling of another presentation to the full group of 14 presidents and chancellors Sunday.

The presentation will cover medical, television and scheduling plans for football, the person said. A vote to start a season is not guaranteed on Sunday but could happen in the coming days. The news was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

Another person involved in the Big Ten’s return to play planning told AP that allowing schools to opt out of playing if the presidents do decide to give the go-ahead to a fall season has been discussed among the task force.

If things move quickly, the Big Ten could start an eight-game season in about a month, and still compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff. While some Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference teams began their seasons Saturday, and more will next week, the Southeastern Conference is not scheduled to kick off until Sept. 26.

The Big Ten postponed its fall season Aug. 11 because of concerns about playing through the coronavirus pandemic, with presidents and chancellors voting 11-3 in favor. Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska voted against postponement.

The conference and first-year Commissioner Kevin Warren have faced push back from inside and out ever since. Parents of players have demonstrated on campuses and in front of the Big Ten offices outside Chicago. A group of Nebraska players filed a lawsuit against the conference to overturn the decision not to play.

President Donald Trump called Warren to encourage the conference to reconsider. The Republican president and his Democratic opponents have tried to blame each other for college football going dormant across much of the Midwest, which includes several battleground states considered key in the November election.

Within the conference, Ohio State coach Ryan Day released a statement Thursday asking the Big Ten to provide more clarity about its decision to postpone. Penn State coach James Franklin made similar comments in a radio interview.

Day’s Buckeyes were No. 2 in the AP preseason Top 25. Franklin’s Nittany Lions were No. 7.