And that is that:
Just in: B1G has postponed fall sports. pic.twitter.com/hSxjcooTjp— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) August 11, 2020
That means no volleyball, no cross country, no soccer, and of course, no football. This is a disaster that was avoidable, but the complete abdication of any form of leadership at any level has led to this. The attitude of “we just have to be tougher than this” has failed. It wasn’t an easy call, but it was the right call.
The Big Ten joins the MAC and a handful of other schools individually in this decision at the FBS level. There is talk of at least trying again in the spring, but unless every conference is on board that becomes a farce because it is unlikely there would be NCAA championships for, say, volleyball in the spring if the SEC plays in the fall and the Big Ten plays in the spring. The same is true for football.
There is no need to get into assigning blame for this, as I could type thousands of words about that. Instead, what really needs to happen for a possible spring season.
How, exactly, do you even do it?
A spring season seems unlikely if you have the SEC, Big 12, etc. play in the fall. If they play in the fall the Big Ten is basically playing for itself, as it seems likely any CFB playoff or bowls would delay until April or so if the SEC is done in November. It is probably all or nothing.
Second, what conditions would there need to be? Obviously, transmission rates would need to drop. There is at least the potential of a vaccine by then, but will it be effective or even widely available. There would have to be conditions, but then again, the NCAA and conferences had five months to come up with actual conditions to make play possible and their response was a giant shrug emoji. That is where your complete failure of leadership came in.
When do you do it?
It is safe to say that the 2021 season is now in jeopardy, at least in some form. If you have an 8-10 game spring season start in February you’re going to end in April. Sure, you have spring football already, but not at the intensity of an 8-10 game season. Once the is done you only get about 4-5 months off before the 2021 season starts. That’s significantly outside of the usual eight months.
Also, since this is not FBS-wide yet you have a major competitive disadvantage now if some conferences play in the fall. There are a few ideas. One wild one I had was to move football to the spring permanently while keeping the NFL in the fall, then you basically get football year round with rookies taking fall to acclimate to the pros. Another is to have a slow walk back to the usual time over the new few years:
2020 season: February-April 2021
2021 season: December 2021-February 2022
2022 season: Back to normal
Of courses this means fun like playing outdoors in Minnesota in January. I suppose a weather solution could be to borrow NFL venues like Ford Field, US Bank Stadium, and Lucas Oil Stadium for a year to get around weather, but how does that work?
My final idea, assuming there is an FBS-wide cancellation, is to just move everything back a year. Reinstate the contracts with Air Force, Memphis, and Boston College and now the 2020 schedule becomes the 2021 schedule. 2021 becomes 2022, and so on.
Again, these are ideas from a random sports blogger, which is already significantly more leadership than the NCAA has actually given.
What if other conferences play?
This is probably the worst case scenario for the Big Ten. It likely leads to a wild, wild west scenario where multiple players leave to try and play elsewhere, the NCAA once against failing to do anything regarding immediate eligibility for said transfers, the Sun Belt becoming a national power because some rogue booster at Middle Tennessee State convincing half of Ohio State to come play there, and the Big Ten taking big hit for 2021.
What about draft prospects?
Purdue already lost Rondale Moore. I would bet a large sum of money that Lorenzo Neal will not play in any proposed spring season due to his own NFL prospects. There will be more and you might have rosters with 75 or less scholarship players now because of seniors opting out or more.
What about recruiting and future eligibility?
Assuming everyone else comes back for a fall 2021 season there is suddenly a logjam of scholarships with the incoming class. Do schools now get 100 scholarships for a while until he situation works itself out? Do redshirt freshmen now have a double redshirt? Is it just a lost year of eligibility now? We have no answer because the NCAA hasn’t even figured this problem out from the spring sports that were lost. They would need to provide leadership for that.
Finally, Purdue stands to lose about $50 million from the complete loss of a season per the Journal & Courier. If basketball is affected (and let’s face it, it will be affected because this country and the NCAA have proven they are too stupid to do anything effective at stopping this) that numbers goes up. Purdue is coming off of a season where it sold out all 16 home games despite barely being over .500. We’re scheduled to have a home basketball game in roughly 90 days. If this country and the NCAA haven’t figured out a damn thing in five months what makes you think it will get it together in another three?
Basically, Purdue is going to lose A LOT Of money over this. Morgan Burke was very good about creating a rainy day fund, but now we need to call Noah and the Ross-Ade renovations are certainly on hold for a long time.
Again, I won’t get into every reason why we are here, but it was avoidable. It didn't have to be this way.
And we still have no end in sight.