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Big Ten To Play Conference-Only Fall Sports Schedule

As of right now, there will be fall sports.

Well there it is.

The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday that “if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. “

This announcement cancels Nebraska’s 2020 home football games against Central Michigan, Cincinnati and South Dakota State. It doesn’t mean that the remaining nine games on Nebraska’s football schedule are assured, as the conference announcement closed with this statement:

“As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate. “

It will be interesting to watch how the payouts to those non-conference opponents will be dealt with as any “Act of God” language which could void contracts between the parties has not been flushed out by courts, to my knowledge, on whether COVID-19 is considered an “Act of God.” It is my assumption, and those are known to be wrong, that schools will reach a settlement of some type. Schools like South Dakota State and Central Michigan will be grossly affected in an extremely negative way if they were to lose the payouts. Most of their budget depends on these non-conference games.

There is a reason why schools are willing to travel to larger schools to play them. It pays.

Also affected by this announcement are the Husker cross country, soccer and volleyball programs. Those teams had not released 2020 schedules as of yet, so it’s unknown what games were lost, though you could realistically assume that the volleyball team was planning to play Creighton (likely in Omaha at the CHI Center) in September.

Marquee Non-Conference Football Games Lost

Below is a list of the highest profile football games we won’t be seeing this fall (Rutgers included as a bit of mercy).

  • Ohio State-Oregon
  • Michigan-Washington
  • Penn State-Virginia Tech
  • Iowa-Iowa State
  • Maryland-West Virginia
  • Miami-Michigan State
  • Penn State-Virginia Tech
  • Wisconsin-Notre Dame
  • Rutgers-Syracuse

One might consider the biggest losers to be the fans. You might be wrong. The Big Ten canceling non-conference games will have a huge effect on the MAC conference. There were 10 MAC non-conference games schedule with Big Ten schools, followed by 5 with the ACC and Notre Dame.

There likely will be a trickle down affect on what will happen with the other conferences. If all power five conferences decide to follow the Big Ten and move to conference-only schedules then there may be little incentive for the non-power five schools to have a football season in the fall. Maybe even for the entire year.

That is assuming the athletic departments could survive that long. There are so many ripples that we simply can’t prognosticate on what will happen from here.

Statement from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter and Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos:

“We are pleased that the Big Ten is planning to move forward with fall sports. The conference has determined a path forward that helps to mitigate risk and will allow Husker student-athletes to compete on the field and in the arena. The most important thing is the safety of our student-athletes and that of our Athletics staff and coaches, and we appreciate the thoughtful approach taken by the Big Ten. Athletics is a valuable part of campus life, and important to our community and the state of Nebraska. We are fortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic has not been as widespread in Nebraska and look forward to safely hosting Big Ten competitions. While there are still many details left to be worked out, we are eager to safely cheer on our Husker student-athletes.”


Will there be games this fall?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Yes! We’ll see a full conference season.
    (49 votes)
  • 37%
    Yes, but the season will be shortened further with games being cancelled.
    (113 votes)
  • 45%
    No. On to 2021.
    (137 votes)
299 votes total Vote Now