It’s official: Big Ten football to begin season in October

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The Big Ten is expected to begin its season in mid-October, per multiple published reports

Big Ten football is less than a month away, the league making an official announcement on Wednesday morning.

The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24, 2020, per the release. The league plans an eight-game schedule with no bye weeks.

Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, told DawgNation before the season started his panel would be prepared for the ups and downs of the season.

“I think everybody needs to realize that this will not be a normal season for college football,” Hancock told DawgNation in an exclusive interview. “How could it be? It’s not a normal word. Abnormal in what ways? We just don’t know yet.

“We’re still five months way from our championship, so we have time, and we’ll be ready.”

The College Football Playoff selection is scheduled for Dec. 20 — one day after the SEC Championship Game and proposed Big Ten Championship Game date.

Per the Big Ten release:

• The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) adopted significant medical protocols including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition.

• The decision was based on information presented by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force, a working group that was established by the COP/C and Commissioner Kevin Warren to ensure a collaborative and transparent process.

• The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily antigen testing. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.

•  The earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis.

The Big Ten council of presidents and chancellors had met on Sunday afternoon with members of the return to competition task force, who plans for scheduling and television, per ESPN, setting the wheels in motion for a positive resolution.

The Big Ten canceled its fall sports season on Aug. 11, citing  “ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic” at that time. 

RELATED: What Big Ten canceling season means to SEC

With other leagues in flux as the scheduled start to the season approach, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence helped organize the #WeWantToPlay player movement, helping to swing public sentiment as the SEC, ACC and Big 12 moved forward, leaving the Big Ten and Pac-12 cancellations in their wake.

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was among the most high-profile Big Ten players to make a case to return to the field, appearing on Good Morning America.

The saga took a legal turn in late August when eight Nebraska football players filed a lawsuit agains the Big Ten, claiming the league’s decision was unjustified and didn’t follow guidelines.

Nebraska president Ted Carter was reportedly overhead at a press conference saying the announcement was imminent.

“We’re getting ready to announce the Huskers and Big Ten football tonight,” Carter said to National Strategic Research Institute director Bob Hinson, according to KETV in Omaha, Neb.

Six Big Ten teams were ranked in the preseason Associated Press Top 25, even though the league had announced at the time it was not playing this season.

Big Ten football 2020 protocol

More from the Big Ten release:

The Big Ten Conference will use data provided by each Chief Infection Officer (CInO) to make decisions about the continuation of practice and competition, as determined by team positivity rate and population positivity rate, based on a seven-day rolling average:

  • Team positivity rate (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered): Green 0-2% Orange 2-5% Red >5%
  • Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk): Green 0-3.5% Orange 3.5-7.5% Red >7.5%

Decisions to alter or halt practice and competition will be based on the following scenarios:

  • Green/Green and Green/Orange: Team continues with normal practice and competition.
  • Orange/Orange and Orange/Red: Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).
  • Red/Red: Team must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved.

The daily testing will begin by September 30, 2020.   

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