The Big Ten will not be playing college football this fall, ending days of speculation on the matter.
The league and conference commissioner Kevin Warren released a statement on the matter on Tuesday afternoon.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Warren said. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
The league did say that it would try and play in the spring, but there are many on Twitter who were skeptical of what that might look like, especially with the NFL draft traditionally being set for mid-April. The league can hold the draft as late as June 2 per their collective bargaining agreement.
With no fall sports for the likes of Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State, many began to wonder what would happen next for some of those athletes. Do some of them transfer to other schools still looking to play this fall? Do those talented enough look to head straight to the NFL draft?
The most prominent player in the conference is someone that has some strong ties to Georgia. That would be Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith issued a statement shortly after the Big Ten’s announcement, expressing his disappointment.
“This is an incredibly sad day for our student-athletes, who have worked so hard and been so vigilant fighting against this pandemic to get this close to their season,” Smith said. “My heart aches for them and their families.
“President-elect Johnson and I were totally aligned in our efforts to delay the start of the season rather than postpone. I am so grateful to her for all her efforts in support of our student-athletes and a traditional fall season.
And within minutes of the Big Ten’s announcement, some of the most prominent media members in the sport began speculating about Fields possibly returning to Georgia, as well as some fans hoping it might happen.
Hear me out … Georgia QB Justin Fields
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) August 11, 2020
Justin Fields —> Georgia —> Ohio State —> Georgia?
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) August 11, 2020
Justin Fields should transfer to Georgia. Always thought he’d be a good fit there. https://t.co/eTzEc5oORB
— Benjamin Wolk (@benjaminwolk) August 11, 2020
Justin Fields said in December that then OC James Coley and coach Kirby Smart “told me if I ever wanted to come back in the future, there was always a spot for me.” https://t.co/CGCFPyoSvd
— Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) August 11, 2020
Justin Fields > Georgia pic.twitter.com/v5mIIkWMIR
— Jennifer (@Jen_eration_x) August 11, 2020
A popular destination for transfer quarterbacks is Georgia. It’s a place to monitor if Justin Fields decides to transfer.
— Garrett Ballard (@NflBallard) August 11, 2020
Justin fields goes back to Georgia???
— Mark M (@mmendenh7302) August 11, 2020
Fields spent his freshman season at Georgia where he played in 12 games but never started. He entered the transfer portal after Georgia’s SEC championship loss to Alabama in 2018 and shortly transferred to Ohio State after Georgia’s loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl.
As a sophomore, Fields threw for 41 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and led the Buckeyes to a College Football Playoff appearance. He was a frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy this season.
After the announcement, Fields voiced his displeasure with the Big Ten’s statement.
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) August 11, 2020
When asked about what comes next, Fields’ father Pablo Fields told DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell, “We’re gonna pray and see what ‘thus says the Lord.'”
Fields has also stated before about how Georgia coach Kirby Smart has kept the door open for him if he were to decide to come back to Georgia, as Fields acknowledged early in his time at Ohio State that he did consider transferring back to Georgia. Fields also has a sister who plays softball for the Bulldogs and is originally from Kennesaw, Ga.
Now it is worth pointing out that a Fields transfer to Georgia seems wildly unrealistic. For one, Fields would be eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft and there’s been plenty of speculation that he’d be a possible first-round pick, especially after the strong sophomore season he put on tape. We’ve already seen Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons decide to forgo his junior season and enter the 2021 NFL Draft.
There is also the fact that Georgia already has five scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, including two transfers in Jamie Newman and JT Daniels. Newman transferred in from Wake Forest while Daniels came to the program over the summer from USC and was granted immediate eligibility for the 2020 season.
Newman and Fields also train together off the field, as the two both work with quarterback trainer Qunciy Avery, who has spoken highly of both Newman’s and Fields’ ability.
Georgia is also over the 85-man scholarship limit at the moment, meaning that if the Bulldogs were to take in Fields it would mean that another player would either have to leave the program or be taken off scholarship.
Fields recently joined the likes of Trevor Lawrence in tweeting out support for the #WeWantToPlay movement and stating that he wanted to play this year. But that was prior to the Big Ten announcing it would not have a fall season.
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) August 10, 2020
Former Georgia tight end Luke Ford, who transferred to Illinois, also shared his disappointment with the news on Tuesday. Unlike Fields, Ford sat out the 2020 season even though he ended up transferring closer to home.
I’m hurting rn… but I know God has a plan🙏🏽
— L U K E F O R D🇺🇸 (@lukeford82) August 11, 2020
The SEC has said it still intends on having a season this fall, with practices starting on Aug. 17 and games beginning on Sept. 26.
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