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Big Ten will play conference games only in 2020

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The first shoe has dropped for the college football season.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There is still much uncertainty about what college football will look like this fall, if it is played at all. Yesterday the Ivy League announced that all fall sports would be canceled and potentially rescheduled for the spring. The first big shoe dropped today, as the Big Ten announced that it will limit competition to schools within the conference.

To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.

This decision was made following many thoughtful conversations over several months between the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, Directors of Athletics, Conference Office staff, and medical experts including the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee.

Several non-conference games will be affected by this, including a huge tilt to open the season between Ohio State and Oregon. Other conferences already seem to be headed in that direction. According to Nicole Auerbach, the Pac 12 is expected to announce the same.

We should no longer harbor any illusions about playing USC. Stick a fork in that one. Not wanting to be left out of the party, the ACC is also reportedly headed in that direction.

So, we are down to two conferences, the Big 12 and the SEC, and we have heard a peep out of neither. In fact, the SEC was reportedly still on board with a full season as of this morning.

Might those two leagues end up partnering together and playing a full season? TCU was always assumed to be Alabama’s backup plan for USC since both had California schools on the docket to open the season. Arkansas and Mizzou could travel fairly easily to some of the Big 12 North schools, and the Texas schools to the westernmost SEC schools. Wouldn’t it be something if COVID got the Horns and Aggies back together for a game?

This is going to be an interesting season for sure.