I hope I’m wrong. I desperately want to be wrong, but I don’t think there is going to be Wisconsin Badgers football this fall.
With the B1G announcing on Thursday afternoon that the conference would be cancelling all non-conference matchups for every fall sport, including football, it seems like this is actually the first step towards not having football at all.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren on BTN was pretty honest about what could happen with COVID-19 pandemic: "We may not have sports in the fall. We may not have a college football season in the Big Ten." Reducing to conf. games was "logical first step" to saving the fall season.— Marcus R. Fuller (@Marcus_R_Fuller) July 9, 2020
The Ivy League has already cancelled their fall sports seasons and, if you’ll remember years ago (read: four months ago), the Ivy League was also the first conference to cancel postseason basketball. Schools all over the country have been slowly welcoming athletes back to campus, and some have had to already shutdown practices due to COVID-19 concerns, while these same schools have been making plans to switch to distance learning for many classes.
"I'm really concerned," said Gene Smith when asked about his optimism that football will happen in the fall. "When you look at the behavior of our country and in may we were on a downward trajectory ... Now, if we are not the worst in the world, one of the worst in the world."— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) July 9, 2020
Predictably the NCAA has nothing useful to say on the matter and is leaving it up to each conference to “make important decisions based on their specific circumstances.” What a feckless, useless, needless organization the NCAA is, btw. They are basically a glorified party planning committee that throws one (1) big party every March and then spends the rest of time making sure the “student athletes” that they say they care so much about can’t make any money or get taken out to lunch.
Today more than ever the absence of a central brain in college football only highlights the sport's regional eccentricities and/or capacity for total meltdown.— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) July 9, 2020
I get the logic behind the B1G going to a conference-only schedule, and while we all got our jokes off about the geographic footprint of the conference, that’s not the reason for this. The B1G wants each school in the conference to do things the exact same way so that there is a chance of football being played.
Switching to a conference-only schedule isn't really about mitigating travel. Just about every league has a huge geographic spread.— Matt Brown (@MattBrownEP) July 9, 2020
It's more about securing a standardized testing/reporting protocol and stalling for time.
Apparently, everybody else is pissed at the B1G too for announcing this when they did which is all the more reason for their to be some sort of governing body that, you know, actually does something.
Across the country, there are some perturbed administrators at the Big Ten's announcement, which many described as covert.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 10, 2020
There's a scheduled FBS commissioners meeting tomorrow.
One source: "Why couldn't they have just waited and until then?"
College football needs a czar.
The decision by the B1G is also going to have far-reaching consequences for schools not in the conference, most notably the MAC. A lot of B1G schools schedule MAC schools in the non-conference for “buy games” because they are close geographically and usually provide the B1G school with a nice warm-up win before conference play starts.
Statement from Bowling Green AD Bob Moosbrugger on the Big Ten decision.— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) July 9, 2020
"If we are to solve these challenges and be truly dedicated to protecting the health and safety of our student-athletes, we need to do a better job of working together." pic.twitter.com/K3GVi5nOQ6
The Mid-American Conference still plans to play its nonconference schedule, MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher tells me.— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) July 9, 2020
Said he was surprised how quickly the Big Ten decided to cancel games.
Added this situation is "not as coordinated" as basketball tournament cancellations.
What is going to happen to some of these MAC athletic departments if they don’t get the money they were expecting because the B1G isn’t playing non-conference games? Are sports going to need to be cut? Will there be massive layoffs? I hope the B1G didn’t make this decision lightly because it affects a ton of people.
BGSU Football is scheduled to play at Ohio State and Illinois. BGSU would lose out on $2.2 million if the Big Ten doesn't have conference games. That is absolutely crippling to a department that already has an extremely limited budget. This is legitimately devastating.— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) July 9, 2020
I think that this is just a stop-gap decision before the real decision, to cancel the whole season, is announced. I think that the B1G and its member institutions are hoping against hope that something will change in the next month, but that is looking more and more like wishful thinking.
Again, I hope I’m wrong. But I don’t think I am. The health and safety of the athletes at Wisconsin, and the rest of the conference, is the most important thing to consider here and some of them have already been infected. I can’t, and won’t, get into the cynical business of discussing the math of “how many players need to be sick” before a team has to pull out of the season.
While it is unlikely that one of these young, healthy kids gets sick enough to die, we don’t know what the long-term effects of getting COVID-19 are and the short-term effects sound like they are pretty miserable to go through.
We here at B5Q will keep writing and reporting like the season is going to happen until we are told it isn’t. We love Wisconsin football and love writing about it and discussing it, so it is our hope that by some miracle the season is played.
I just don’t think it will be.