Ohio State president sees ‘pathway’ for fall football season for Big Ten

Ohio State’s new president sees “a pathway” to Big Ten football being played this fall, and a national radio host says that could be as soon as early October.

That is an important distinction.

In an interview with WCMH television in Columbus, OSU president Kristina Johnson said work is being done by multiple Big Ten committees to develop protocols to allow for players to take the field knowing none of them are positive for COVID-19.

While she used the term “fall,” she noted that particular season technically lasts into almost the end of the year.

“Fall is a long period of time,” she said. “Fall goes until December 20, right? So I’m hoping — yeah I see there is a path to football. People talk about winter, early spring, late winter, those types of things are being worked out. Again I come back to our campuses need to be safe and that means in the performances as well as in the classrooms, and we’re all working hard to do that. That means if we all do our part, wear our masks, stay six feet apart, wash our hands then I think that we’ve got the procedures in place to go forward.”

Dan Patrick, a Southwest Ohio native and University of Dayton graduate, told his national radio show listeners Wednesday morning some in the conference are targeting Oct. 10 for the first games of the season.

That would be two weeks after the SEC and Big 12 are set to begin, three weeks after the University of Cincinnati is scheduled to play host to Austin Peay and almost a month after the ACC returns to action, but it would be in time for Big Ten teams to be part of the College Football Playoff.

Patrick added that a decision for the conference to return had not been made, but like Johnson indicated it could happen even though Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren indicated Aug. 19 the decision to “postpone” fall sports would not be revisited.

Despite that announcement, parents of players at Ohio State and several other schools have continued to push for a return to play or at least more information about why the decision was made not to play rather than to delay the start of the season.

“Are they afraid that it’s going to be a bad look for them?” Brad Myers, father of Ohio State offensive lineman Josh Myers, told the Dayton Daily News in August. “I mean I would much rather have them take a little bit of a bad look and give all the student-athletes an opportunity to compete. Just sign a waiver, and if you opt out, that’s fine. Everybody’s gonna respect that. We don’t know their situation or their family history.

“You know, we always teach our boys to when you get knocked on your back, get up and attack in another direction and swing as hard as you can. I felt like the Big Ten never even entered the fight.”

Patrick was among the first to report the Big Ten had voted not to play this fall. Sources told him it was a 12-2 vote, but court documents filed by the conference this week in response to a lawsuit filed by eight Nebraska football players indicated it was 11-3.

Johnson, who officially took her post as OSU’s 16th president Tuesday, confirmed to WCMH she was among the Big Ten leaders to vote to delay rather than make a final call in early August.

“The kinds of things we’ve learned about how we can have what is called a ‘clean field,’ players on the field that are negative that can play that we can play football, we’re working through the Big Ten, we’re working with the commissioner to try and get those things in place, medical protocols where we can keep our students safe,” Johnson said. “That’s what this really comes down to: We want to make sure our athletes get a shot because they’ve worked really hard and they deserve a shot to play. At the same time, we want to make sure they’re safe. So we’re doing our work. We’ll come back and I’m very hopeful that we’ll be playing football this fall.”

Credit: The Ohio State University/Logan Wallace

Credit: The Ohio State University/Logan Wallace

Patrick indicated if Big Ten teams do play this fall, some might remain on the sideline, and all this came just a day after President Donald Trump spoke with Warren about the conference changing course.

Trump and the conference both characterized those discussions as “productive,” and LettermanRow.com reported they centered on the federal government helping the conference obtain a large number of new rapid tests for COVID that are not only faster but more affordable.

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