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The Big Ten Gives in to Reason

When the collegiate athletic conferences began debating whether to allow their teams to play, the Big Ten was one of the first to decide not to have a fall schedule. They assumed that other Power 5 conferences would follow.

But as the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 decided to play modified schedules, the Big Ten just looked foolish. Players, coaches, and fans spoke out – as did sportswriters like Clay Travis of Outkick. Finally, the Big Ten gave in to reason and decided yesterday to allow schools to play beginning next month.

According to the conference’s statement, the Council of Presidents and Chancellors made the decision:

The COP/C voted unanimously to resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24, 2020. 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.

Travis set up a call between President Trump and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, and naturally the president is willing to acknowledge his hand in convincing the conference to decide.

Trump even appeared on Travis’ radio show this morning to talk about football and other sports.

Regardless of where you stand politically, having more college football this fall should be good news to everybody, right? Not so fast.

USA Today‘s Christine Brennan isn’t happy. She believes the Big Ten should’ve kept players and fans unhappy and stayed home this fall – and naturally she shows disdain for the SEC in her complaint.

For decades, the Big Ten has thought of itself as a different kind of sports conference, one that proudly touts the academic achievements and Great Lakes values of its like-minded, highly-regarded, internationally-ranked research institutions. The Big Ten wasn’t the SEC; it wasn’t the Big 12. It was better than that, and it was happy to tell you all about it…

Then came Wednesday, the darkest day in Big Ten sports history, the day the vaunted conference caved. It choked. It got scared. It became the SEC.

The darkest day? I have two words for Christine Brennan: Jerry Sandusky. But why point out the most truly painful incident in the conference’s history when you can take a cheap shot at the South?

Dan Wolken, also at USA Today, took his opportunity to make the Big Ten’s decision into a political issue by slamming Trump for taking some credit.

Now, whether they like it or not, Trump is going to take a political victory lap at their expense. It’s going to be part of his stump speech going forward. It’s almost certainly going to come up later this month at the presidential debates. When Big Ten football happens every Saturday, you can be sure the Twitter account of the commander-in-chief is going to be a font of self-congratulations…

The problem is, it’s not like Trump wanting Big Ten football to happen was particularly unique. Lots of people wanted it to happen from fans to players to parents to administrators. 

Sports journalists like Brennan and Wolken have been the ones who have hated the most that four of the five Power 5 conferences – with lone holdouts the Pac-12 likely to follow – because it destroys the narrative that we have to keep absolutely everything on lockdown as long as possible. It also kills these people that returning to college football stands to benefit the president.

The fact of the matter is that it’s been a difficult year for so many people, and having college football on Saturdays helps us feel a little closer to normal. As long as players and fans can stay safe, it makes sense to let teams play. As much as the sports media might not like it, college football in 2020 is a good thing, and we should all be happy about it.


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