Barely a day goes by without Big Ten Conference commissioner Kevin Warren, now entering his second year on the job, seeing his decision to postpone fall sports questioned or countered.
On Saturday, Sam McKewon of the Omaha World Herald quoted University of Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos as saying he and his 13 colleagues wanted Big Ten football to proceed this fall. Moos and the ADs at Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan pushed hardest, he said, but there was unanimous agreement in wanting to play. “He knew where we were coming from, and he was the messenger to the presidents and chancellors,” Moos said.
The problem was a lack of communication, according to Moos. “I knew where our people stood, but I would have liked to have been in the room when they expressed it to the commissioner and our presidents and chancellors,” Moos said. “The commissioner was operating in silos, and the silos weren’t connected. And, in the end, that created varying degrees of communication not being delivered.”
Earlier in the week, an Ohio State football forum on Facebook shared word that OSU athletic director Gene Smith, with the full support of school president-elect Kristina Johnson, has been working behind the scenes to organize fellow Big Ten athletic directors in convincing at least five other university presidents to move forward with a fall season. Each of the six teams would play the other five twice to form a 10-game schedule, according to a source cited by sportswriter and Ohio State alum Jeff Snook.
As of Tuesday night, the source claimed that Penn State president Eric Barron, Nebraska president Walter “Ted” Carter and Iowa President Bruce Harreld are on board with the new plan. The group hopes to convince two other universities, notably the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan, to join them.
While those efforts have entered their second week, analysis in today's online edition of The Columbus Dispatch reveals that Ohio State's losses without a football season could reach $110 million (USA Today subsequently reported the figure at $130.3 million), the highest estimate yet among schools bracing for seven-figure setbacks — including Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Ohio State parents aren't giving up on a season either. After organizing a peaceful protest Friday outside the Big Ten's Rosemont, Ill., headquarters, the father of Buckeye defensive back Shaun Wade announced early Sunday morning that another protest would take place at Ohio Stadium this Saturday, as reported by Sports Illustrated.
Randy Wade tweeted, "We will meet at the Rotunda at the shoe 11:00am this Saturday... The Ohio State parents association is leading the charge for continued answers.... We ask other Big Ten associates parents to join us or do the same at their perspective schools... #Fight"
It all has put Warren in an unenviable position. With six football-playing conferences, including three of the Power 5, pushing toward a fall season, the Big Ten's decision looks worse by the day — at least for now. If — a big if — seasons are completed without significant incident due to the coronavirus pandemic, the damage to a sidelined Big Ten could be lasting.
"The B1G has painted itself into this corner and now has become the villain on the outside looking in," writes Dustin Schutte of saturdaytradition.com. "It must now hope, pray, and yes, even root against football being played this fall."