Schwartz: Ten Sentences – Money Money Football Money Edition
Well holy cow – there’s (probably) going to be Big Ten football this fall after all. It shouldn’t be surprising that most of us, myself included, are not merely OK with college football happening in the middle of a global pandemic, we’re enthusiastic. Darn near giddy.
I am way more excited for Hawkeye football than I care to admit. This past summer I talked myself into being OK without it, but now that it’s (probably) back, I’d be crushed if it was somehow—for some reason—taken from us again. Instead of trying to maintain perspective, let’s lean into our excitement. Ten thoughts on the Big Ten’s return:
1. Not gonna lie: I was more than a little jealous last weekend when Iowa State opened their season against Louisiana on national television under what appeared to be a beautiful sunny sky with a perfect fall breeze.
2. The result (home loss to a Louisiana school that isn’t LSU) didn’t matter; instead, it succeeded in snapping us out of our delusion that we could somehow live without the Hawkeyes, and it might not be a coincidence that just a few days after the first “full” weekend (a relative term) of college football that the Big Ten finally realized that maybe they could play in 2020 after all.
3. It’s worth noting that it wasn’t the wrong decision back in early August for the Big Ten to cancel/postpone its football season, but it wasn’t the right decision, either—if anything it was a decision that was made too soon with the best information that was available in the moment, and over the course of the next month it became evident that, yes, it’s possible to play college football this year as long as you’re willing to take certain precautions and willing to accept (and inflict) numerous dangers and inequities.
4. Finances necessitated the Big Ten find a way to return, even if they can only play about 60 percent of their season, but even beyond the money the morale-boost-via-emotional-distraction that this will give Hawkeye fans (and Badger, Gopher, Boilermaker, etc. fans) is beyond measure.
5. And let’s not forget the group of people who made this all possible—the players—who in addition to feeling the joy of athletic competition this fall will continue to work toward their goals of reaching the NFL; I think anyone with a lick of common sense realized that if the Big Ten tried to play this spring that it would be next to impossible for seniors to take part.
6. (Also, can we take a multi-sentence detour to appreciate the Pac-12’s total abdication of leadership in this process? They’re like the miniature, tough-talking runt who hides behind the Big Ten bully. The Big Ten cancels; the Pac-12’s like, “Yeah, we’re canceling too!” The Big Ten votes to return; the Pac-12’s like, “Heh heh, yeah, good call boss. We’re gonna return too. We’re right behind you!”)
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7. The nine-game schedule is … fine, more than fine actually given how late in the year the Big Ten will start play, and the idea for the ninth game is fantastic: the top team in the West and East will play each other in the Big Ten Championship Game, while they two second-place teams will square off, then the two third-place teams all the way down to the last-place teams.
8. That’s an idea we might be able to get behind even after we return to the usual 12-game schedule next season; sure, it would increase the risk of injuries to the under-compensated labor (players), but since they’re already being sent out play during a pandemic, we know that the health of the players, while a concern on some levels, is not the Big Ten’s greatest concern.
9. Instead of there being just the Big Ten Championship Game, imagine a Big Ten Championship weekend each December with roughly the following schedule (better overall record is the host; title game at neutral site like it always is):
Friday 1 p.m.: Seventh-place matchup
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Friday 4:30 p.m.: Sixth-place matchup
Friday 8 p.m.: Fifth-place matchup
Saturday 9:30 a.m.: Fourth-place matchup
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Saturday 1 p.m.: Third-place matchup
Saturday 4:30 p.m.: Second-place matchup
Saturday 8 p.m.: First-place matchup
10. That would generate a lot of cash, a lot of interest, a lot of fun, and probably a few unnecessary injuries, but I’m willing to bet quite a few of us would watch every minute—and still be left wanting more.
* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.