Big 10 Football is Officially Back

James Franklin in 2018
Photo Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Looks like the Nebraska president who accidentally spilled the beans on a hot mic was right. Big 10 football is back.

Today the conference announced a plan to resume the season on October 23rd while adopting “stringent” medical protocols, which include daily antigen testing and other such measures.

Here’s part of the statement shared on the official conference website:

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 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. 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.

Each institution will designate a Chief Infection Officer (CInO) who will oversee the collection and reporting of data for the Big Ten Conference. Team test positivity rate and population positivity rate thresholds will be used to determine recommendations for continuing practice and competition.

It goes on to say that COVID-positive athletes will have to do cardiac testing with labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram, and a cardiac MRI. The part that sticks out to me is that they need to sit out 21 days following a positive diagnosis, which would force the player to miss three entire games.

The Big 10 originally released a ten game, conference-only schedule back in August, and that has now been reduced to eight games, according to Dennis Dodd and others. Eight games in eight weeks, culminating with a December 19th title game.

Penn State was originally set to play all six division opponents, plus Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Illinois out of the Big 10 West. They would not play Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Purdue. No word yet on a revamped scheduled, but the easiest way to do it would probably just be to stick to the original plan and lop off two of those non-division games, right? We’ll see.

Either way, Big 10 football is back baby.

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