We could possibly see Matt Tamanini’s dream soon become a reality. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Big Ten should be releasing the 2020 football schedule in the next week, and you’ll like see the schedule front-loaded with divisional games.
With the elimination of non-conference games this year, the Big Ten will likely opt for a 10-game season, with three to five open dates scheduled for each team. That amount of open dates would allow for some flexibility if a team has to quarantine for 10 days or more during the season if there is a COVID-19 outbreak.
Big Ten teams already had nine conference games on the schedule this season, which means they’ll have to add one cross-division game. The added cross-division matchups haven’t been announced yet, but expect them to be heavily influenced by geography. Ohio State could draw Purdue or Northwestern if the Big Ten goes through with their plan to try and schedule the 10th conference game against the cross-division team that is closest.
Of course, all this could be for naught if college football is postponed, which right now is seeming like the smartest option. The NBA, NHL, and MLS have been able to cut out positive COVID-19 tests because of the bubbles they have been using, but that type of system is pretty much impossible to use in college football considering the amount of players, coaches, and staff that are needed. Team personnel can be isolated, but there is still a risk with travel.
The MLB wasn’t even able to go a weekend in their season before an outbreak of COVID-19. After playing a weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Miami Marlins have seen over half their players test positive, and earlier today it was reported that a couple Phillies employees have now tested positive. Even though MLB is taking precautions, it just shows how contagious the virus is.
Let’s just say that the Big Ten feels confident in their plan to keep players safe and they go ahead with the season. Who does Ohio State play first? Since this season is obviously going to be different from anything we have ever seen, why not shake things up a bit? Instead of ending the regular season with Michigan, Ohio State and That Team Up North should open up the season.
Just because the regular season starts, it doesn’t mean it will finish, so why not make sure we get in the most important game of the Big Ten season? This would mean Ohio State and Michigan would square off in Columbus on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. While the opening weekend of college football is always littered with big games, it’s hard to think of many opening games in college football having a bigger impact than The Game.
If the Michigan-Ohio State game is going to be moved from its usual spot on the schedule, we might as well go full plaid with it. How about playing the rivalry under the lights this year? Some fans have been clamoring for years to play the game at night, while traditionalists have said The Game only should be played at noon. Since there will be nothing traditional about this year, we should really lean in to making this year’s contest as memorable as possible.
Obviously it’s a lot tougher to play the game at night in November, but doing so in September makes a lot more sense. I’m sure a game of this magnitude wouldn’t be fun at all to play in possible 90-degree heat at noon. This isn’t Bowling Green or Buffalo that the Buckeyes are playing — it’s their rival. The weather for a 7:30 kickoff would be a lot more bearable. Plus, imagine the visuals would be incredible as night falls on Ohio Stadium.
Tell me college football wouldn’t love opening up the season in primetime with the country’s fiercest rivalry. Heisman Trophy contender Justin Fields looking to lead the Buckeyes to another win against Jim Harbaugh, who is not only looking for his first win as head coach against Ohio State, but also is potentially coaching for his job this year. This would be ratings gold.
It all makes too much sense to do something like this, which is why the Big Ten will probably end up putting the game at sunrise sometime in October. Honestly though, if Michigan and Ohio State play each other this year at anytime we should be happy.
The odds look like they are against college football right now, but there is still time to turn things around. It is going to take a lot of work from everyone for college football to be played this year, but it still can be done. I can’t say I’d agree with college football being played with the way things are currently trending, but if we don’t have at least a little bit of hope, then we have nothing.