Dan Patrick has emerged as an insider for Big Ten football in recent weeks. He was the first to break the news of a vote by the conference's presidents and chancellors to postpone the season. Last week, he had the Big Ten targeting an October 10th start date. Now, he pours water on his previous optimism for Big Ten football this Fall:
If Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Northwestern, Maryland, and Rutgers are not playing, this leaves the Big Ten with eight schools remaining. Dan Patrick says that some schools want October, some want November, and some want January. With a November start, Big Ten schools would not get enough games in to qualify for the College Football Playoff, with the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 starting conference play in late September.
As we've said repeatedly, playing a season that starts in January would be galactically stupid. It'll be the height of flu season. There's unlikely to be a Covid-19 vaccine available to some of our nation's healthiest 18-22 year-olds at that point. Playing indoors instead of outside is a greater risk. 18 or more football games in a calendar year flies in the face of any rhetoric about player health. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The one silver lining in Dan Patrick's message is the schools that he didn't name. Previously, only Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio State voted to play. If the omissions of Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesota mean that they have flipped, the Big Ten would only be one more school away from crossing the 60 percent threshold.
This still doesn't feel over, as the Speaker of the House in Michigan becomes the latest politician to lobby for a Fall football season, but there's less optimism than there was before Labor Day Weekend.
Dan Patrick mentioned that at least one coach wants to hear public support of a season from Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren. While Warren was said to be in favor of a season after a productive phone call with President Trump in which federal testing resources were promised, he hasn't said so out loud. No better time than the present....