Well, after a slew of smaller schools and conferences decided to sit out of college football in 2020, the sport’s first big bombshell has finally dropped: The Big Ten won’t be playing this year, with eyes on a possible spring season.
Sources: Big Ten is announcing that the fall is cancelled. League will attempt to play in the spring.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 11, 2020
While this particular announcement had been the focus of heavy speculation over the past couple days — and the Pac-12 is rumored to join the Big Ten in this decision — SEC commissioner Greg Sankey appeared on the Dan Patrick Show this morning with every intention of his league making an attempt to play, stressing his patient approach:
“We’ve made decisions to avoid some of the time pressure I sense others are feeling. We haven’t had our players in helmets and pads. We’ve spread our preseason preparation out. We’ve moved our kickoff back to allow our universities to get back to their fall semester order.”
Perhaps most intriguingly, Sankey hinted that the SEC could go it alone, even if the other Power 5 conferences bow out of 2020:
“We’re actually set up our schedule with our own health protocols; we could, if that’s the circumstance, operate on our own. I’m not sure that’s the wisest direction.”
Sankey also addressed the cancelation of the Palmetto Bowl, along with the other SEC-ACC rivalry contests, calling it a “difficult part of the COVID environment.” The SEC ultimately preferred to focus on its league schedule, with the thinking that a “quasi-bubble” could be established if all games were kept in the family, so to speak.
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner, who was on 107.5 FM when the Big Ten news dropped, continued to emphasize that spring football is likely a last resort for the SEC:
Tanner: "I think spring is a challenge, personally. It's not impossible."— Ben Breiner (@BreinerTheState) August 11, 2020
Tanner said spring is something the SEC could address, but it hasn't been a focus to this point.
Currently, the Big 12 and ACC are taking a similarly hopeful approach, with the ACC basing its decision to forge ahead off recent medical advice.
It’s only Tuesday and this week has already been a rollercoaster in the college football world, so we’ll see what continues to develop in this ever-shifting landscape.