A little over a week ago, the Big Ten cancelled the 2020 fall season because of fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. While the conference’s leaders have put shockingly little thought into what happens next, the people in charge at Ohio State have been doing quite the opposite. In fact, in his press conference last Wednesday, Ryan Day laid out a plan for college football to be played in the winter.
There are obviously a number of hoops to jump through in order to make that reality, but it seems as though the Buckeyes’ head coach has put more thought into the future of his program and its student-athletes than Kevin Warren and his constituents did when they made their hasty decision to cancel less than five days after releasing an updated fall schedule. Somebody has to step up to the plate and lead the charge in planning for a return to football, and Ohio State fans should be happy that Day is that guy.
The prevailing idea from the Big Ten’s vague press releases has been that the conference plans to try and play football in the spring, but Day thinks a winter season is much more viable for a number of reasons.
For starters, he is asking for an eight-game schedule that takes place during January and February. Like many others in the college football realm, Day questions the reality and the safety of asking these kids to play a full season into April and then turn around and play the 2021 season just four months later. This timeframe would also allow NFL Draft-bound players, like Justin Fields and Shaun Wade, to potentially stick around and get another year of college ball under their belt before the draft in April.
In addition to moving the season to winter, Day proposes that incoming freshman that enroll early should be allowed to participate in these winter games and then play again in the fall of 2021 and only have it count for one year of eligibility. This would open the door for guys like five-star running back TreVeyon Henderson and five-star defensive end Jack Sawyer — both of whom will not be participating in high school football this year — to log valuable game reps with the Buckeyes and potentially fill any roster gaps left by players that do leave early for the NFL Draft.
Now, actual on-field issues aside, there are certainly some problems that would need to be addressed with any plan to play football again in the near future. The first and most glaring is obviously where the country stands in terms of the pandemic. It is incredibly unlikely this virus will be completely eradicated come January barring some miracle of a vaccine. However, what we can hope for is improved testing and contact tracing as well as a more concrete knowledge of both long-term health concerns and proper safety protocols that would allow college football to be played during a time where COVID still exists.
A second concern will be how weather plays a factor. I don't know if you've spent a winter in the Midwest, but boy does it get chilly in January and February. Luckily, the region does have its fair share of indoor venues. A trio of NFL stadiums — Ford Field in Detroit, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis — as well as Miller Park (home of the Milwaukee Brewers) could play host to college football games. It would be easier to coordinate with these venues in only an eight-game season, and games could be played on Fridays and Saturdays across multiple time slots since fans likely wouldn’t be in attendance anyway. Think of it like basketball teams sharing a venue during March Madness.
Another concern likely held by fans is the idea of crowning a National Champion. Obviously, if the ACC, Big 12 and SEC all do go through with their seasons this fall, Ohio State would not be able to compete for a national title. However, if the Big Ten and Pac-12 both figured out ways to play their seasons in the winter, maybe the best team from each conference could face-off in a Rose Bowl-esque postseason game to determine the king of the winter. In addition, if the Big Ten can come up with a clear and detailed model for winter football, maybe the other P5 conferences could be enticed to join them in January. Either way, Ohio State would still get a chance to compete for yet another Big Ten Championship.
All of this is fun to speculate about, but at the end of the day the only way this can really come to fruition is if plans are made right now. The Big Ten cannot afford to wait until December to try and piecemeal together a winter season. If the conference is serious about resuming football in the “spring,” then these are discussions that the powers that be must be having around the clock starting yesterday. Day is confident that his model can work, but as he said in his presser, “I think we need to get on this right now and get these guys some answers. It’s gotta be weeks, it can’t be months.”
What do you think Buckeye Nation? Are you down with Ryan Day’s idea of a shortened January football season, or is the whole thing just a wash at this point? Cast your vote, and let us know in the comments how you feel.
Should Ohio State play in the winter?
This poll is closed
Yes. Any football is better than no football.
Yes, but only if the P5 all play for a title.
No. No national title = no Buckeyes
No, but for other reasons (leave a comment)