The dominos keep falling for college football. A day after the Ivy League decided to postpone or cancel its entire fall sports calendar, a report from Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic indicates the Big Ten will erase all non-conference games from its football schedule in an effort to solidify and delay the calendar.
The Big Ten is expected to announce today that it will go with a conference-only football schedule for this fall, a person with direct knowledge situation tells @TheAthleticCFB.
— Nicole Auerbach 😷 (@NicoleAuerbach) July 9, 2020
Auerbach’s initial report was soon confirmed by ESPN, which noted that this does not just apply for football — all fall sports will move to conference-only schedules.
Much like the NFL canceling two preseason games, this can be seen as one baby step toward a more significant restructuring of the football season and the NCAA’s fall sports calendar more broadly. It makes sense as a logical starting point: Playing only in-conference means less travel, which means less regional overlap and cross-contamination as well as fewer games overall. And logistically, one commissioner overseeing the whole schedule means changes are easier to account for and require less consensus.
However, unless a wholesale upheaval of the schedule soon follows, the NCAA will lose out on what could have been some awesome matchups — football especially hurts due to the conference’s standing as one of the premier leagues in the sport, meaning we’re losing games like Michigan at Washington on Sept. 5 or Ohio State at Oregon and Iowa State at Iowa on Sept. 12.
Per ESPN: “Some Big Ten schools preferred playing only conference foes with one additional non-league game, which would preserve some of its marquee non-Big Ten matchups, but there is overwhelming support for a 10-game conference-only schedule, the sources said.”
This is clearly a big dent in the NCAA’s hopes to hold sports this fall, but perhaps there remains time to etch out a plan that is financially viable for all, with the possibility remaining for a push back to the spring.