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Navigating the Big Ten/college football rumor mill

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If it is actually possible for a social media platform to spontaneously combust, it may have happened yesterday.

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-North Carolina vs Temple Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be honest: Monday’s college football Twitter was a really chaotic place to navigate yesterday. Coming out of the day, it was hard to know what was the truth and what was merely he-said-she-said information, but what we do know this this: for now the college football season seems to be on still for the Power Five conferences. Still, with everything that happened, it’s hard to imagine that things haven’t been stirring behind closed doors with representatives of each conference. Big Ten, I’m especially looking at you.

The Big Ten conference was perhaps the biggest catalyst in yesterday’s Twitter explosion. It all started when sportscaster and radio personality Dan Patrick was referenced in a tweet saying that the Big Ten had officially voted on opting out of the fall football season:

There had been rumors brewing Sunday night that the Big Ten might be the first brave(?) conference to decide not to risk playing football, and Patrick delivered what seemed to be confirmation. The most interesting part of this is that he included the PAC-12 as a conference that would opt out, but there wasn’t any real information released that pointed to that being true. Still, this was what Twitter/media had to run with for a good while, and much like with everything else in 2020 a lot of people had a lot of things to say about what would basically be a hollow college football season without one of the bigger conferences in the fold.

Of course the fun didn’t just stop there. While there had been some mysterious Power Five personnel speaking out on the Big Ten situation, we finally had some staff from Big Ten and ACC schools speak out on what their plans were for the football season:

Joining the choir of coaches speaking out about wanting fall football to happen were players, and from Sunday night going into Monday there was a loud chorus of players tweeting the hashtag #WeWantToPlay. For a deeper dive into that situation, check out Akil Guruparan’s piece from yesterday, but the short synopsis is that players not only want to make sure that they can play this fall and play safely, but the graphic that many of them are sharing expresses their desire to form a player’s association. The implication that is included with this idea is that players are wanting the NCAA to eliminate their amateur status and give them some form of pay in order to play, but the honest truth is that we just don’t know enough about what what they actually seek to do. The player whose tweet likely got the most attention is Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s:

While sports Twitter’s fire burned on for the entire day and night, it turns out that the Big Ten never officially made any kind of announcement about postponing or canceling their season. What it sounds like according to multiple analysts is that there is a major disconnect between conference presidents and coaches, and as of right now they are unable to make any kind of definitive decision.

So, to answer the question of whether or not the Big Ten will be postponing their season, we just don’t know yet. As far as the ACC goes things have been extremely quiet, and it’s hard to predict what would happen next if the Big Ten or any other Power Five conference did hit the eject button. On a surface level it’d be hard to imagine that the schools didn’t at least try to play, but with reports being released of five Big Ten athletes being diagnosed with Myocarditis as a result of contracting COVID-19, there’s enough cause for conferences to reconsider what should and shouldn’t transpire.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from everything that has happened to this point is that the NCAA has done an excellent job of sticking their heads in the sand ever since the college basketball season was canceled in March, and now that football is going into September with no plan or structure the conferences are scrambling to do the hard part for Mark Emmert & Co. When Emmert decided that the decision whether or not to play was on each individual conference, it was clear that he didn’t want to take any responsibility for what would or would not happen to athletes that participated in their respective sports this fall. I could write an entire manifesto about the leadership failures of the NCAA, but I will spare you all and just say that this wasn’t an impossible task to navigate. All they had to do was show some kind of leadership and make a firm, conscious decision that resulted in a lot less chaos. Unfortunately that is asking a lot, and it’s one of the many reasons some people wouldn’t be upset if college sports operated within a new organization.

Alas, the NCAA is still here, and college football is still here...for now. Let’s see how things unfold the rest of this week, and hope that maybe there will be a safe way for us all to get to enjoy some Tar Heel football next month.