Report: Big Ten Establishes Framework for Winter Football Season

By Craig Fritz on August 26, 2020 at 4:49 pm
Dec 3, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; A view of the Big Ten Championship trophy held by members of the Penn State Nittany Lions after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship college football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Penn State won 38-31. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten conference is moving forward with plans for a truncated football season held at indoor sites to start in January, according to multiple reports published on Wednesday. The plan follows the league's decision to postpone all fall athletics in the wake of the raging COVID-19 global pandemic.

According to Ryan Synder and Nate Bauer of BlueWhite Illustrated, the initial plan includes:

  • An eight-game season beginning the week after New Year's Day
  • One bye week per team
  • No games on campuses
  • The potential to play the Big Ten Championship between the winners of the East and West divisions at the Rose Bowl in California. 

Additionally, BWI reports that the Big Ten and the Pac-12 have had discussions about their champions meeting in a traditional Rose Bowl Game following the season, though that remains just a possibility at the moment.

According to further reports from The Columbus Dispatch's Buckeye Extra, the Big Ten is exploring indoor sites across and outside of its footprint to host winter-term games. The potential sites include Indianapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Syracuse. The Milwaukee Brewers also play in a dome, but it would need to be retrofitted to host football.

The Big Ten postponed their fall season earlier this month, with the Pac-12 following shortly after. The other Power Five conferences and some Group of 5 leagues are still moving forward with a fall schedule, with games set to begin as soon as next weekend.

The Nittany Lions will already be without one of their top players if the conference can get a winter season off the ground with Micah Parsons opting out to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. A handful of other players will have a decision to make regarding their participation with this modified schedule.

The NCAA has already announced that this season will not count towards a player's eligibility, so it is possible for some of Penn State's seniors to play in the winter and again in the fall. It is unknown at this time how early enrollees would factor in.

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