The journey for the Big Ten to have a football season

The college football world seemed to have completely fallen apart on August 11, 2020, as the Big Ten decided to cancel fall football and try a restart in the spring. The committee came to this drastic decision because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases, and they believed that shutting down football was the only way to keep players safe.


After the news broke onto the national spotlight, there was immediate backlash from fans, coaches, and players. Within the same day, the hashtag #wewanttoplay began trending. The most prominent players in the college world were leading this charge, such as Trevor Lawrence of Clemson and Justin Fields of Ohio State. Fields even went out and created a petition, which received over 200,000 signatures. Parents even went as far as to sue the Big Ten for not letting the players play. Coaches who spoke out included Jim Harbaugh of Michigan and Ryan Day of Ohio State. They both expressed how disappointed they were, and Ryan Day made this statement While I understand the Big Ten Conference’s decision to postpone the football season because of health and safety considerations, the communication of information from the Big Ten following the decision has been disappointing and often unclear, however we still have an opportunity to give our young men what they have worked so hard for: a chance to safely compete for a national championship this fall.” (Staples, 2020) After all this backlash, the Big Ten decided to hold a vote on whether they should continue playing a season or not. The vote came back 2-12, with Iowa and Nebraska being the only teams who voted in favor of a season. Over the next one and a half to two months, several more votes took place to see if any universities wanted to change their minds, but none did.


In the week that followed the Big Ten’s decision, there was talk about schools possibly leaving the Big Ten for the year and joining the Big 12 and SEC, most notably Nebraska and Ohio State. Like Ohio State, Nebraska said that they had strong intentions of looking for other ways to play, which means Nebraska would have joined the Big 12 for this year and played a ten-game conference only schedule. After Nebraska made this announcement, the Big 10 came out and said that no team would be leaving for the year, and if they tried, it would result in possibly being kicked out of the conference entirely. 

Weeks after the Big Ten made their decision, a new development in COVID-19 made national headlines giving the conference board of directors further information to consider.  A new way of rapidly testing and getting results back much faster could now alert the teams if a positive test was detected and quarantine that player before it spreads. Shortly after, news broke that the Big Ten board of directors would hold another vote to determine if they would return. The vote came back unanimously in favor of a fall season, meaning all 14 teams voted in favor of starting fall football. The Big Ten then announced they would begin football on October 24th. The schedule for all teams was then released, and immediately people noticed something about it. According to Brandon Marcello of 247Sports, “The Huskers’ schedule was changed from games against Rutgers and Illinois, arguably the two worst teams in the conference, to playing Ohio State and Wisconsin, arguably the two best teams in the country.” Rumors started to spread that the Big Ten possibly gave Nebraska a difficult schedule as a punishment, but this was never confirmed nor denied.



Staples, Andy. “Ohio State Coach Ryan Day Calls for Big Ten Fall Season: ‘Why Can’t They Play?’.” The Athletic, The Athletic, 10 Sept. 2020,