The first full weekend of the 2020 college football season kicks off Saturday with the Big Ten among four FBS conferences continuing to contemplate whether it will be part of that fall season. A Big Ten medical subcommittee is considering whether it has new findings to send to league presidents about a potential start to the season before the league's projected date of spring 2021.
Those recommendations would then be forwarded to the Big Ten's Return To Competition Task Force, which is preparing for the "safe resumption of sports competition as soon as possible."
In an attempt at transparency, the Big Ten on Friday night released a list of its myriad committees reporting to that task force.
The determination at this point remains whether the 14 Big Ten presidents and chancellors will gather for what would amount to a revote on the Aug. 11 decision to postpone the fall season.
"I don't think they're there yet," a Big Ten source told CBS Sports.
A revote will not be considered without guidance by that medical subcommittee. It is made up of 16 administrative and medical personnel within the conference and chaired by both Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour and Dr. Jim Borchers, the head team physician at Ohio State.
The Pac-12 announced last week it was moving toward daily, point-of-care COVID-19 testing that commissioner Larry Scott said will lead to resumption of fall sports at some point this year. He did not mention football specifically.
Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez is chair of a Big Ten football scheduling subcommittee, one of five committees/subcommittees listed as part of the league's release
"Before the presidents and chancellors give us the go-ahead to play, they're going to have to feel comfortable that the medical questions that they had, the things presented to them by our doctors in the Big Ten, that they're answered," Alvarez told the Wisconsin athletic board last week, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"It's as simple as that. It's not some magical date or who does the best lobbying. Questions have to be answered. And we're getting more questions answered with testing."
There is no certainty the Big Ten will change its current stance this fall. The conference announced on Aug. 11 it was postponing a fall season. Eight days later, in an "open letter to the Big Ten community," commissioner Kevin Warren said a fall season "will not be revisited."
A vote by the Big Ten CEOs will come no earlier than Sunday but is more likely to occur next week, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.
There are several hurdles to clear before getting to that point.
- Four of the top 12 campuses with raging COVID-19 positives nationally are in the Big Ten, according to the New York Times. Illinois is fourth nationally with 1,760 cases. As a conference, the Big Ten is third nationally behind the SEC and Big 12. Both of those conferences have chosen to play in the fall.
- Wisconsin football and hockey have paused for two weeks after a rash of COVID positives.
- The Big Ten presidents originally voted 11-3 against playing in the fall. The three dissenters were Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State. For the Big Ten to reconsider, six presidents would have to change their vote.
- Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway made it clear he is not going to change his vote against playing, according to NJ Advance Media.
- Some Big Ten coaches are in open revolt against the league's decision not to play. Ohio State's Ryan Day tweeted the medical subcommittee has done an "excellent job" in creating return to play scenario for mid-October, though there is no evidence that is currently in the plans.
- Minnesota regents voted down a resolution by regent Michael Hsu on Friday that would have returned football "at the earliest logistically possible date."
Meanwhile, TV and scheduling subcommittees are attempting to model a date for return to play. Options for a Big Ten season starting in October, November and January have at least been mentioned. As of last week, a Big Ten source told CBS Sports that oft-mentioned Oct. 10 start date "wasn't happening."
To compete for the College Football Playoff, it's almost certain the Big Ten would have to start a shortened fall season by October at the latest.
A source close to the CFP process told CBS Sports the CFP Selection Committee has already considered selecting teams that play different amounts of regular-season games.
A Big Ten season that began Oct. 17 could conceivably include an eight- or nine-game regular season before a Dec. 19 conference title game.
The CFP has already said it will reveal its final rankings on Dec. 20.