The Big 10 dives in for the 2020 season, does it change anything?
So much for the Big 10 chaos surrounding the 2020 College Football season....
In an announcement that surprised relatively nobody, the conference announced they would resume ramping up activities with plans to start the season on October 24th.
The 14-team league will play eight conference games and a conference championship, with the season ending on December 19th, the day before the College Football Playoff committee picks their participants for the championships.
Yes, that may have had a small part in the decision making process--but it wasn't the only factor.
The Big 10 and commissioner Kevin Warren have been the subject of relentless criticism for postponing their season, particularly in light of the ACC, Big 12 and SEC along with most of the Group of 5 conferences moving forward.
From lawsuits filed by Nebraska fans and athletes to protests led by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and even the Prez his own self chiming in, the pressure on the conference was immense.
The league held firm in their decision, citing the medical evidence, concern over possible myocarditis in those who had COVID-19 and testing issues as the primary concerns. Of course the lack of a coordinated PR response ultimately made the Big 10 the butt of almost every College Football joke.
In the meantime, we're about to hit week #3 of the regular season with now only the SEC and Big 10 slated to play but not yet started. Week #2 brought us the "Rise of the SunBelt" (see THE REVIEW--An OSG Sports Podcast) where we saw Arkansas State and Louisiana jump up and bite the ill prepared Big 12. Note---the ACC played too, but they're pretty much playing conference games only.
So at this point you're probably asking yourself: "What does this all mean?" Which honestly isn't that difficult a question to answer.
The CFP is still in play. The ACC Champ, Big 10, Big 12 and SEC Champ will likely fill the top 4 spots there. Unfortunately the return of the Big 10 means it will be virtually impossible for anyone else to sneak in there. Without the Big 10, there's at least a chance for a "Group of 5" program, with the 10, no chance. No chance in hell.
\Which at least to me is the biggest tragedy of the whole thing. Just once, I'd love to see someone other than a combination of Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama and/or Georgia play for all the marbles.
Can someone else jump up and spoil that party? Yeah, maybe. Will they? Not likely. Which is kind of sad.
We also are likely not to have a "bowl" season this year either. Virus non-withstanding, finishing the regular season on Dec. 19th allows 5-days before Christmas, 11 before New Years and no way to squeeze in 41 games in two weeks.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Every season in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) is predictable. Some combination of the above teams, along with maybe LSU or Notre Dame can be penciled in. That combination may never change. At least until the "Power 5" breakaway and form their own league.
But hey, we have near peak College Football.
Oh, if you're wondering about conference #5 in the "Power 5", yeah, the Pac 12. They aren't coming back any time soon. Between the medical concerns and the inability to practice due to wildfires making the air unbreathable in several western states, they won't be ready in the immediate future. Which is sad.
The Pac 12 has some issues to deal with, the inability to play in 2020 only being part of their problems. The conference itself has floundered under the leadership of Larry Scott, becoming almost irrelevant in the national conversation.
It also means in 2021, should they be able to return to play, they will not have the ability to compete with the rich kids across the country. They won't have the athletes or get near the publicity.
And the game will become even more narrowly focused on the half-dozen or so programs from Oklahoma towards the east, with everyone else just an after thought.