The B1G decided they’re going to play football in 2020.
Of course they did.
Following an announcement on August 11th that the B1G would postpone its fall sports season Commissioner Kevin Warren formed a “return to competition task force” which presented their findings this past weekend, apparently in favor of returning due to the development of rapid COVID testing.
But... uh... you know that’s not the only reason, right?
Maybe it’s the openly hostile coaches. Maybe it’s the indifferent presidents. Maybe it’s the understandably-emotional-parents of impressively-calm-players showing up in Indianapolis to yell loudly at a building. All of those played a factor, but the only factor that matters in college football is the money. And that was the tipping point; realizing that they can do rapid testing every day and still make money. Done and done.
The issue — and source of accidental comedy — is that this is the B1G. They are the sole Power 5 conference that consistently claims that they care more about the student-athlete and academics while chasing national titles with as much fervor as the SEC. No pro-academic argument is won by adding a non-AAU, pro-football school like Nebraska; no conference is looking to improve its football quality by adding Rutgers. And this is the warring dichotomy that makes it so easy to mock the B1G and makes it so difficult for them to operate in the exact way they want to: the two identities they want have no chance of compatibility.
When the B1G postponed fall sports it was the right decision for the wrong reason. Why? Because they didn’t have any listed reason. They trotted out Commissioner Warren who fumbled through an hour and a half of boilerplate language peppered with “safety” and “academics” without giving anything concrete. The Pac 12 had a 12-page PDF that you can view right here that outlines it perfectly. You knew they were serious.
No, the B1G made their move when they did because they wanted to be on The Right Side Of History; not because it was the right thing to do, but to protect their image. They incorrectly assumed that the rest of the college football world would follow in the example of the monolith conference that represents all things that are pure, good, and worthy. They didn’t want to look like they were going to make football work to make money because, by jove, that would just not be the proper endeavor for a gentleman-scholar to make. They underestimated how little of a s*** the other conferences gave about balancing the student-athlete model and revenue generation; now they’re right in the muck with everyone else, finally shirking their faux academics-first approach and trying to make some bucks to keep this money train going.
I don’t blame them. But they’ve officially lost the clout of pretending to be better than everyone else.
Welcome to 2020. The money is made up and nothing else matters.