COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Big Ten is at least discussing the idea of playing a college football season that starts in November, with several reports tying the possible plan to a start around Thanksgiving.
One immediate question we heard from our Ohio State text subscribers was something long the lines of, “What’s the point of a season if Ohio State can’t compete for the College Football Playoff National Championship?”
If the Big Ten starts a season in January, which is also a major possibility, everyone knows the playoff is a no-go. The CFP has announced that the final selection date has been moved back to Dec. 20, but that adjustment didn’t have an effect on the games. The semifinals are set for the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, while the title game will be played in Miami on Jan. 11.
Moving back any more would necessitate moving those games, which is far more complicated than moving when the playoff committee releases its final rankings.
Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, said in an email Friday that there has been no discussion about moving the dates of the games. There’s no reason for that to have happened yet.
But if that discussion ever were to happen, it would involve the four conferences that postponed the fall season — the Big Ten, Pac-12, MAC and Mountain West — persuading the six conferences and Notre Dame that are planning to play this fall to agree to that major change.
The conferences playing this fall have built in allowances for games to be postponed because of coronavirus, just as the Big Ten did in the new schedule it released six days before announcing the end of the fall season on Aug. 11. The SEC, for instance, moved back its championship game from Dec. 5 to Dec. 19, which led to the playoff moving back its selection date.
“The CFP schedule is set by the management committee and board of directors,” Hancock wrote.
For them to do anything more than they’ve already done would be hard to imagine, unless the other conferences playing this fall suffered drastic delays to regular-season games that made finishing any type of normal season by Dec. 20 impossible.
The management committee is comprised of the 10 commissioners of the conferences that play FBS football, and the Notre Dame athletic director. That would be Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren trying to make a case for playoff date changes to people like SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and ACC commissioner John Swofford.
The board of directors is made up of one president from each of the 10 conferences and the Notre Dame president. That would mean Penn State president Eric Barron making the same case for the Big Ten.
Why would the SEC, ACC, Big 12, American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt Conference, Conference USA and Notre Dame listen? The Big Ten and other conferences decided on their own to not play a fall, and if they kind of change their minds, why would everyone else agree to push back stadium agreements and hotel bookings and everything else that goes into the semifinals and title game to accommodate them? To ensure a full playoff that includes every conference? It’s more likely that the SEC, ACC and Big 12 would relish seeing the Big Ten and Pac-12 left out.
If all of college football is a mess this fall, maybe there would be no choice. If all of college football is too much of a mess, maybe there would be no playoff. But if the SEC and others are playing through the fall as planned, it’s hard to imagine any case the Big Ten could make to delay the playoff because of its November start. Opening a season on Thanksgiving weekend would mean playing only four games before the playoff selection date.
If the Big Ten somehow started even earlier, like in October, which doesn’t seem like it is being considered, that would be a different story. But if the Big Ten chooses a late November start over a January start, it won’t be because of the College Football Playoff.
Because the playoff almost certainly won’t wait.
New Ohio State face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Ohio State-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection. A 3-pack is available on Fanatics for $29.99.
More Buckeyes coverage