Get Ready To Fly The School Flag; Mich, MSU Will Play This Season
Dust off your favorite school's flag and get ready to fly it on your garage, or balcony. The Big Ten Conference, after days and weeks of contentious meetings has voted to try and have a football season. It will start Friday night, October 23rd. If everything goes as planned, it will be an eight game season, with the Big Ten Championship on December 19th. That date is critical, as the National Championship Selection Show is set for December 20th. Word is the Big Ten is hoping maybe one team could qualify for that big pay day.
In addition to seven divisional games, there will be one seeded cross-division game. No details on when the Michigan-Ohio State game will be played. ESPN quotes Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez as saying a schedule will be released later this week.
The move by the conference is a complete reversal of the decision made August 11th, to postpone or cancel the entire season. Sports talk show host Dan Patrick has been reporting that there wasn't complete agreement to start the season, but ultimately the schools made the decision that every school would play. Previously, it was reported that Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Northwestern, Maryland, and Rutgers were going to not play.
One of the factors in the reversal is the advances in rapid Covid testing. One of the main concerns earlier was the issue of liability against the school should any people connected to the school's football programs comedown with coronavirus. Another on going concern is reports that some who have survived coronavirus have been dealing with lingering and possibly permanent lung damage.
The Big Ten announced these Covid related rules: Any player testing positive will face a 21-day suspension of play. And there will be a shutdown threshold of 5% positivity rate on a team. Also, there will be no fans allowed in stadiums, however family members and staff may be allowed at games.
Another question being raised is about the game day experience: if you as a fan are not allowed in, say The Big House, or Spartan Stadium. will you be allowed to congregate near stadiums and tailgate? At the same time, local officials may shut this down, using East Lansing as an example, where there are current coronavirus hot spots.
Ultimately, this decision is not about human safety, it is about money. Should a Big Ten school make it the National Championship playoff, it's a big pay day for the conference, as Forbes reported three years ago. And for elite athletes, it's a showcase to get to the next level, and their own big payday.