Welcome back to Buckeye Bits, where we round up all of the headlines from around the Ohio State beat. There’s quite a bit of them today, so before we get into it, I thought I’d go through a quick rundown of the most recent events:
The Big Ten released its conference-only schedule two weeks ago. Supposedly, the making of this schedule was incredibly complex, tedious and specific to ensure maximum flexibility in case games needed to be moved around.
A few days later, the Big Ten announced out of nowhere that they were canceling the fall sports season. Their official statement basically said: “Fall sports canceled for players’ safety. Maybe spring season? Who knows! LOL”
The Big Ten does not offer an explanation or a concrete backup plan, meanwhile schools are facing blows of hundreds of millions of dollars without football, players who have dedicated their lives to training, practicing and preparing for the season are left wondering if and when they’ll play next, and coaches and athletic directors can’t lead their respective teams because they have zero information to give them.
Parents from almost every school in the conference have written letters to the Big Ten, asking them to reconsider their decision. Some are even peacefully protesting in front of the B1G headquarters in Chicago on Friday.
Justin Fields started a #WeWantToPlay petition that is well on its way to 300,000 signatures, and has appeared on multiple talk shows to state his case. The quarterback is showing impeccable leadership, made even more impressive by the fact that he is projected to go top-five in the 2021 NFL Draft whether he plays another collegiate snap or not.
And the rest of the football world— the SEC, ACC, even Ohio high schools— is still set to kickoff this September. If other conferences do in fact play this fall, it could be detrimental to the future of Ohio State recruiting.
Which brings us to today— the day the Big Ten has come out of its bunker to put all hopes and dreams of a fall season to rest.
From the Big Ten: The decision to cancel the fall season will not be revisited. pic.twitter.com/8i6mahuSnR— Austin Ward (@AWardSports) August 19, 2020
In a statement released eight days after the conference’s initial cancelation announcement, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren revealed more details behind the decision and reaffirmed that they would not be reversing it. The primary reasons behind he and the conference presidents’ decision to cancel include:
“Transmission rates continue to rise at an alarming rate with little indication from medical experts that our campuses, communities or country could gain control of the spread of the virus prior to the start of competition.
As our teams were ramping up for more intense practices, many of our medical staffs did not think the interventions we had planned would be adequate to decrease the potential spread even with very regular testing.
As the general student body comes back to campus, spread to student-athletes could reintroduce infection into our athletics community.
There is simply too much we do not know about the virus, recovery from infection, and longer-term effects. While the data on cardiomyopathy is preliminary and incomplete, the uncertain risk was unacceptable at this time.
Concerns surrounding contact tracing still exist, including the inability to social distance in contact sports pursuant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. While risk mitigation processes (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings, proper hygiene, etc.) can be implemented across campus for the student body population, it became clear those processes could not be fully implemented in contact sports.
With the start of full-contact practices and competitions, it became increasingly clear that contact tracing and quarantining would risk frequent and significant disruptions to the practice and competition calendar.
Accurate and widely available rapid testing may help mitigate those concerns, but access to accurate tests is currently limited.
Significant concerns also exist regarding the testing supply chain, generally, for many of our institutions.
While the statement still did not include plans for moving forward, according to Austin Ward of Lettermen Row, “the Big Ten is still formulating an exact plan for what will come next, and Ohio State has been actively involved in that process by helping put together a proposal for a winter/spring season that could potentially start in January. Details for that have not been finalized, but multiple sources have confirmed to Lettermen Row that the winter format has gained traction provided it can be done safely.”
Additionally, Ohio State AD Gene Smith released a statement of his own where he announced that the conference has established the “Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force” to develop plans for winter and spring competition models:
“While a decision has been made by the presidents of the Big Ten Conference to postpone the fall season, we view this as a temporary delay, and Dr. Johnson has directed us to prepare for the possibility of bringing at least some of our fall sports back to practice and competition by the end of the year. We are actively planning for the winter and spring seasons for all sports, including the return of football.
As an athletics director at a Big Ten institution, I will always be respectful of our conference as it provides an outstanding platform for our student-athletes to pursue the championship experience. The health and safety of all our students, coaches and support staff is our highest priority. The conference has established the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force to develop plans for winter and spring competition models. I want to thank Dr. Johnson for her participation on this task force.”
Fall sports returning by the end of the year? I’m listening.
With that being said...
Kevin Harrish, Eleven Warriors
In an interview with Good Morning America on Wednesday, Fields said he hasn’t considered whether he will play a spring college football season.
If a season happens anywhere close to April, Fields knows damn-well he’s not playing another collegiate snap. However, if Ward’s sources are correct and a spring season can be done in January, or if football can somehow make a return by the end of the year, I could see Fields potentially suiting up for one last go as a Buckeye.
Good news for all the other conferences, I guess.
Sources: The NCAA Division I Council decided today that fall sport student-athletes can compete in any amount of competitions this year and it will not count as a season of eligibility. This still needs to be approved by NCAA Board of Governors on Friday.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 19, 2020
The NCAA Division I Council decided on Wednesday that student-athletes in fall sports will preserve this season of eligibility regardless of the amount of competitions they take part in. It will be interesting to see how scholarship limits are adjusted for the incoming 2021 class if these athletes do choose to return for their extra year.
Illinois’ parents have entered the chat.
Illinois parents join parents from Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Iowa and Nebraska in sending letters to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren calling for transparency on the conference's decision to postpone football season. https://t.co/o8GGld2ZI6— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) August 19, 2020
Obviously this was before the Big Ten issued their statement on Wednesday evening, however it’s impressive how many groups of people the conference managed to piss off in just eight days.
And not sure if this is still happening...
Attorney Tom Mars has filed a lengthy FOIA request to Michigan State (and soon the other 13 members of the #BigTen) requesting documents pertaining to the cancellation of Big Ten football. He is doing so on behalf of parents of Big Ten players seeking answers behind the decision.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) August 19, 2020
I would assume it is, however, because the Big Ten did not release its actual data or medical findings in their statement— something that should, without question, be made public as well as released to the other conferences.
Penn State head coach James Franklin offers his thoughts on how the Big Ten has handled things thus far.
Franklin: "I don’t necessarily have an issue with the decision. But I have an issue with the process and I've got an issue with the timing. It was challenging to keep getting up in front of my team and getting up in front of my parents and not having answers to their questions."— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) August 19, 2020
Nathan Baird, cleveland.com
Doug Lesmerises, cleveland.com
The guys at cleveland.com have answered the questions everyone is asking. First, Nathan Baird walks us through the last few months in an attempt to figure out how exactly we got to this point. Then, Doug explains why 15-year-olds can play football at their D5 high school while some of the most elite athletes in the country at the state-of-the-art program that is Ohio State cannot.
From around the hardwood...
College basketball bubble in the works?
Source: Many college basketball coaches and administrators believe that current non-conference schedules will dissolve due to COVID-19 and teams will look to play regionalized games in pods or bubbles to fulfill any hope of non-conference basketball before league play. https://t.co/rXXk7dt6Yj— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) August 19, 2020
A bubble is the one and only answer to a college basketball season happening safely. It is absolutely adamant that they figure this out ASAP.
From everywhere else...
Alex Seats, 247Sports
On Tuesday, former Ohio State DT Jashon Cornell went down in practice with what Lions head coach Matt Patricia called a “pretty serious” Achilles injury. If its a tear, he could miss his entire rookie season.
Another one bites the dust.
Wake Forest WR Sage Surratt has opted out of the 2020 college football season and is declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s the fourth prospect from @McShay13’s initial first round mock draft to opt out of the season already.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 19, 2020
The SEC is a strange place.