Well, if yesterday was a crazy news day in the world of sports, today wasn’t much different as we saw a handful of Big Ten players suing the conference for canceling fall football, the Buckeyes got a BOOM to put them back in first place, and (almost) all of the pro sports leagues decided to shut down their games for tonight.
We will run you through it all of it in Thursday’s Buckeye Bits!
From around Land-Grant Holy Land...
Tia Johnston, LGHL
One down. Two to go.
Gene Ross, LGHL
Look, we aren’t going to have real games to watch this fall, so we might as well create a season based on the best games from the recent past. Gene kicks us off with a great opener.
Brett Ludwiczak, LGHL
The day after the Big Ten presidents canceled the fall football season, Ohio State football coach Ryan Day was out promoting his plan to play a winter season beginning in January. Similarly, it appears that Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann is also stepping into the leadership void and trying to figure out what the future looks like for his team.
Gene Ross, LGHL
With this commitment, the Buckeyes move back into first place in the 2021 247Sports composite rankings after Alabama temporarily supplanted them thanks to a recent Rivals ratings update. Still a ways to go to get that “top-class ever” crown, but these days, I will take whatever wins I can get!
From around the gridiron...
Nate McHugh, Corn Nation
In a fairly stunning move, eight Nebraska Cornhuskers players officially filed a lawsuit against the conference office today for their handling of the cancelation of the fall football season. The players are officially looking to have the decision reversed and the fall schedule (presumably the conference-only version) restored.
The players; Garrett Snodgrass, Garrett Nelson, Ethan Piper, Noa Pola-Gates, Alante Brown, Brant Banks, Brig Banks, and Jackson Hannah; are sighting “tortious interference with business expectancies,” “breach of contract,” and “declaratory judgement” as the reasons for their suit.
The first complaint is in regard to the Fair Pay to Play Act that was passed by the Nebraska legislature and signed by the governor last month that allows college athletes in the state to financially benefit from their name, image, and likeness. This one is complicated, because until 2023, the school has to approve these payments before players are allowed to receive the financial benefits — which Nebraska has not yet done — but this strategy is likely the players’ best legal argument according to lawyers.
The next two complaints center around the widely discredited assertion that the university presidents did not in fact hold a vote to cancel the season, as is required by conference bylaws. This is likely less of a way to try and return the canceled fall season to the schedule, and more of a legal maneuver to make public the votes of the individual university presidents.
While the lawsuit did prompt a response from the league office, it was another one in which the B1G hid behind vagaries and did little to provide substantive information to the questions posed by the people who the conference is theoretically supposed to be serving, the student-athletes.
Because of the immediacy of the request to restore the fall season, an introductory hearing was held on Thursday afternoon, in which the B1G’s lawyer laid out this doozy:
Big Ten attorney Andrew Luger argues the "harm would be incredible" if board of directors documents were made available to the public just because eight student-athletes disagree with the decision. He said the court is asking for something with "no precedent."— Sean Callahan (@Sean_Callahan) August 27, 2020
Since 13 of the Big Ten’s 14 institutions are public universities, I would imagine that they have very little legal ground to stand on when it comes to keeping this information private (do not take my opinion as legal advice, I am not a lawyer, not all that intelligent). But, what is most surprising from this statement is that the league attorney is claiming that something involved with this decision-making process is so damning that it would fundamentally destroy an individual or institution if it was made public.
What could that info possibly be? Did a university president suggest literally killing football? Like, finding a way to anthropomorphize the sport and then murdering it? Short of that, grow up, release the documents, and stand by your decision.
Now, to be clear. While the Big Ten member institutions are mostly public universities, the conference itself is not; it is a not-for-profit organization, so it is not subject to the same laws that the schools themselves would be. Therefore, the lawsuit is likely to have little actual impact, at least in a legal sense. This probably isn’t going to for the conference to release information, let alone reverse course on playing this fall.
However, the audacity of the lawsuit will almost certainly continue to apply pressure to a B1G that is very much on the ropes and trying to regain even the slightest semblance of the leadership mantle that it, until recently, occupied in the college sports landscape.
On a related note, the Nebraska parents organization also indicated early on Thursday that they have been in contact (and presumably coordination) with 11 of the other 13 parent groups in the Big Ten.
Apparently great ideas can occur to multiple people at the same time as two illustrious Buckeye beat writers wrote on the same topic over the past 24 hours:
Bill Landis, The Athletic (paywall)
Dan Hope, Eleven Warriors
Interestingly enough, their lists only shared two players — neither of whom have ever played a down of college football, and not so coincidentally play the same position. But strong cases made for all Buckeyes mentioned.
Cool. What t-shirt is he gonna wear to the first day of camp?
Former Ohio State long snapper Liam McCullough has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.https://t.co/nANOuaTwNB— Buckeye Sports Bulletin (@Buckeye_Sports) August 27, 2020
Phil Harrison, Buckeyes Wire
While this is not directly related to the Nebraska players’ lawsuit mentioned earlier, it does highlight that the B1G’s lame attempts at either ignoring or placating the growing anger from players, parents, and fans is not doing the job, and is likely only continuing to fuel the fire of their determination to get information and make an example of the conference’s leadership.
Austin Ward, Lettermen Row
In the article, Ward makes a similar point to what I have been arguing from the LGHL Twitter (@LandGrant33) account for weeks: Kevin Warren is not ultimately, or even predominately, responsible for the cancelation of the B1G’s fall season. That responsibility falls on the shoulders of his bosses, the university presidents.
However, his piss poor handling of the decision and its aftermath will likely haunt his entire tenure as conference commissioner, however long or short it might be.
Presented without comment.
ESPN's Max Kellerman calls SEC football fans stupid and "easy to propagandize and almost immune to facts."— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) August 27, 2020
Why the hell did he think going on national TV and calling a large portion of the country dumb was a smart idea? pic.twitter.com/I2kqxg2uXg
From around the hardwood...
If we start getting excited about Ohio State basketball is that going to eventually get ripped away from us too?
Sources: November 25th and December 4th have emerged as the two likeliest start dates to begin the 20-21 college basketball season.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) August 27, 2020
One of the all-time OSU greats still out representing the Buckeyes with pride. And he’s even talking to Jim Jackson as well.
“It'd be quite odd, & quite contrary to everything that's happened, if some of the demands that the players sent to these owners weren’t gonna be met”@jimjackson419 joins @clubtrillion & @tatefrazier to discuss how change can be uncomfortable & the relationship among NBA & NBPA pic.twitter.com/i8sYq4Rd4T— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) August 27, 2020
From everywhere else...
For the second night in a row, the WNBA will not be playing tonight.
A half an hour later, the boys joined the ladies.
The NBA releases a statement regarding upcoming playoff games. pic.twitter.com/8jD6M4fk4Q— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 27, 2020
And — fairly surprisingly — so did the NHL.
Baseball’s still playing though, however multiple individual teams have decided to join their fellow sports leagues and postpone their games tonight as well.
Congrats, Franklin County. Don’t screw it up.