Great googly moogly, folks. Every day is a circus in the age of ‘Rona. Today, the SEC finally decided to pull its head out of the sand and cancel non-conference games, but they also made a few other moves that will have dramatic effects on the college football season (if there is a college football season). I talk about that, the imminent announcement of the Big Ten’s schedule, Justin Fields on the Manning Watch List, the NBA and NHL’s returns, and more in today’s edition of Land-Grant Holy Land’s “Buckeye Bits.”
From around Land-Grant Holy Land...
Tia Johnston, LGHL
It’s great that Ryan Day and crew can continue to recruit major tight ends, but at some point, don’t those prospects need to ask themselves, “If I go to Columbus, will they ever actually throw me the ball?”
Fans and media have been expecting to see more from OSU’s TEs for going on 20 years. Every year we hear the hype, but every year tight ends combine for like a dozen catches. I would love for Fields and all future Buckeye QBs to have tight end-safety blankets to go to with regularity, but I’m going to have to see it to believe it.
Gene Ross, LGHL
I say this on a lot of these articles that we are posting, but I am old, so I am going to go with the old guy. Give me Shawn Springs, or give me death.
Brett Ludwiczak, LGHL
Brett’s column is in reference to the great Teddy Greenstein’s article in the Chicago Tribune and subsequent tweet in which he strongly implied that the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines will not be playing in their traditional final weekend of November slot, but instead will play early in the season.
I’ve already written on why I think that they should kick off the season, but I love the wrinkle that Brett adds; play it at night. Every year — especially in the rare occasions where TTUN is supposed to be good — a segment of the fandom wants FOX or ESPN to air the game in primetime. That’s never going to happen in late November due to Big Ten regulations prohibiting it that late in the season, but there’s absolutely no reason not to do it on Labor Day weekend. Heck, let’s get wild and throw in really funky alternate jerseys or something to make all of the traditionalists really go nuts.
From around the gridiron...
Ok, let’s get into the story that I teased at the top. On Thursday, the SEC announced that their teams would only be playing conference games, joining the Big Ten and Pac-12; the ACC previously announced that their teams would play just one non-conference game. The Big 12 is the lone Power 5 conference not to announce COVID-inspired schedule changes yet; but I imagine that will come at any time.
So, while that portion of Thursday’s announcement is news, it’s not unexpected. But, what peaked my curiosity the most was the fact that the SEC will be starting games on Sept. 26, and will play their conference championship game on Dec. 19.
That is just 11 days before the first New Year’s Six bowl game is schedule to be played, and less than two weeks before the College Football Playoff semifinals. Now, of course, nothing in the era of COVID is set in stone, and those bowl games could be moved or canceled, but — assuming the NFL doesn’t postpone the Super Bowl — I would imagine that the latest that college football would want to play the national championship game would be Jan. 25.
It is always played on a Monday, and I’m sure everyone involved on both the CFB and NFL sides would want it done before Super Week, so if they did push things back, they only have a couple of weeks to play with, but not much more.
I would imagine that when the Power 5 conferences announce their schedules, they all will be playing their title games that same weekend as a way to keep the playing field level in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee.
However, one thing that will not be level appears to be the dates when individual leagues will start games. According to numerous reports, including Tom Dienhart who covers Purdue, the B1G is planning on moving up their conference games to what was already set to be Week 1.
Big Ten source tells me Sept. 5 start date for Big Ten looks likely. That was original start date for the league. Schedule should be out soon, maybe as soon as "next 24-48 hours," per source.— Tom Dienhart (@TomDienhart1) July 30, 2020
This was widely reported when the move to conference-only games was initially announced, but now it appears that the league office is going to make it official very soon. While I would guess that it happens early next week, apparently, we could be getting news about schedules by week’s end.
Whenever it comes, based on the disparity in starting dates between the B1G and SEC, I would imagine the Buckeyes will have multiple open dates to accommodate any unforeseen delays or postponements. I’d guess 10 games over the 15 Saturdays between Sept. 5 and Dec. 12., with the B1G Title Game on the 19th.
Nathan Baird, cleveland.com
If we actually get to a point in which we are worrying about dates for bowl games and the College Football Playoff, that means that things have gone far better than I currently imagine that they will in regards to how college football deals with the coronavirus. In that still-hard to envision future, I would guess that this means that fans will in fact be permitted in Ohio Stadium for games this fall after all.
In his article, Baird talks with ticketing experts who project the cost of OSU football tickets to rise 50-75 percent for this season if capacity is capped at 20,000-ish, as the university has floated. I know that Gene Smith and the athletic department are going to want to get the boosters and President’s Club members in there, but I really hope that they at least make tickets available to seniors and graduate students in their final years at OSU.
Allstate Sugar Bowl Staff
No surprise here, but Justin Fields was among the 30 college quarterbacks added to the preseason Watch List for the Manning Award. In addition to big name QBs like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, Florida’s Kyle Trask, and Notre Dame’s Ian Book, Fields is joined by follow B1G signal-callers Sean Clifford (Penn State), Jack Coan (Wisconsin), and Tanner Morgan (Minnesota).
And if you needed a reminder as to why Fields is a favorite to win this award and the Heisman Trophy, here he is in early July throwing at the Elite 11 camp:
From around the hardwood...
With all this talk of football (and the quick flameout of OSU’s two TBT teams), it’s nice to get a little dose of hoops to remind you that basketball is still supposedly on schedule.
Duane Washington catch and shoot threes...? *chef’s kiss* pic.twitter.com/JTGgU99gqM— Ohio State Hoops (@OhioStateHoops) July 30, 2020
From everywhere else...
The NCAA joins the NBA in allowing social justice phrases on jerseys.
The NCAA will allow student-athletes in all sports to wear social justice statements on their uniforms, including replacing last name with words to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 30, 2020
While I am 100 percent in favor of this move, I am not looking forward to “fans” getting upset about the words that players put on the back of their uniforms. I don’t know that I can take all of the handwringing over athletes expressing their thoughts on issues important to them right now. Just enjoy the games and let the kids be, please.
You ready for some playoff hockey and basketball?
Do you hear that sound? It's hockey baby. pic.twitter.com/43hEVL02HU— 97.1 The Fan (@971thefan) July 30, 2020
THE NBA RETURNS TODAY pic.twitter.com/rAtRyMdtAp— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) July 30, 2020
The leagues will have slightly different formats as they look to complete their seasons that were halted by the pandemic. The NHL will dive straight into the playoffs, while the NBA will play a round of “regular season” games before the postseason begins in earnest on Aug. 15.
Bring it on, and long live bubbles!