College football conference commissioners said at the start of what has become a long, cruel COVID-19-impacted offseason that nothing was off the table.
The past 72 hours have served as evidence of such, with the Big Ten serving as Exhibit A.
After a weekend of anonymous leaks in the media suggested the Big Ten and Pac-12 would cancel their seasons, the USA Today Network reported the league had done just via a Monday morning Detroit Free Press article.
The SEC teams’ hopes of having a football season could hinge on enough other conferences moving forward, providing a deep enough field to warrant the College Football Playoffs.
Every conference decisions bears watching.
Most expect the Big Ten conference season cancellation will still happen — even though a Big Ten spokesman said Monday there had not yet been a vote.
But there remains a twist to the story that goes beyond the fact that Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren has a son who plays football at Mississippi State.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday that ultimately, it’s up to each institution to determine if it plays football this season.
The question becomes who would Big Ten teams play, if only a handful of them move forward?
The ACC and Big 12 have opted for conference-only schedules that allow for one non-conference game.
The SEC selected a 10-game conference-only slate.
The Pac-12 is expected to cancel its season, too. But even if it wasn’t, it also had a conference-only schedule.
The Mid-American Conference canceled its season last Saturday. The Mountain West Conference announced on Monday that it, too, has canceled its season.
That would’t seem to leave many options, but Nebraska coach Scott Frost was among the Big Ten coaches who made it clear his team will take what it can get.
“We want to play a Big Ten schedule; I hope that’s what happens,” Frost said on Monday. “Our university’s committed to playing, no matter what, no matter what that looks like or how that looks.
“We want to play no matter who it is or where it is, so we’ll see how those chips fall. We certainly hope it’s in the Big Ten. If it isn’t, I think we’re prepared to look for other options.”
Fellow Big Ten coaches Jim Harbaugh, James Franklin, and Ryan Day all came out in support of their players with a desire to play games this season.
For now, it seems, the immediate future of those traditional Big Ten powerhouses remains up in the air.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who pushed back the start of his league’s season to Sept. 26 and its practices to Aug. 17, posted tweets that indicated his league is still in wait-and-see mode.
The ACC athletic directors, meanwhile, met on Monday and were “moving forward in an attempt to play,” a staff member told Yahoo Sports.
The Big 12 is considered by most to be on the fence, with commissioner Bob Bowlsby not sounding optimistic in his comments to CBS sports on Sunday night.
“All of us would be less than honest if we wouldn’t acknowledge that the trend lines are troubling,” Bowlsby said, “and the last two weeks or three weeks have not been positive.”
The SEC was reportedly doing its best to convince the Big 12 to join along with the ACC and move forward into the season.
The Pac-12 remained silent on Monday, even as some of its players got behind the organized movement headed by Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.
The Pac-12, like the Big Ten, is also expected to cancel its season according to the national reports citing anonymous sources this past weekend.
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) August 10, 2020
Swinging as hard as we possibly can right now for these players!! This isn’t over! #FIGHT
— Ryan Day (@ryandaytime) August 10, 2020
I love our players & believe it is my responsibility to help them chase their dreams, both collectively & individually. I am willing to fight WITH them & for our program!#WeAre
— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) August 10, 2020
Sources: ACC ADs met today and are “moving forward in an attempt to play,” in the words of one staffer. League presidents could be meeting today as well.
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) August 10, 2020
As presidents/chancellors, ADs and coaches across the country chime in from all over the country today, what you’re getting from many of the top paid “leaders” making decisions in the Pac-12 is silence. Pathetic. And they wonder why the players are enraged.
— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) August 10, 2020
When asked who makes the call on the college football season and fall sports, Mark Emmert said last week: “It’s actually going to have to be each institution,” Emmert said.
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) August 10, 2020
DawgNation CFB crisis coverage
Report: Big Ten canceling football season, per USA Today