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Big Ten has positive meeting, no return-to-play vote scheduled yet

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Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith still hasn't received word about a fall season. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Big Ten has positive meeting, no return-to-play vote scheduled yet

COLUMBUS — The Big Ten is pushing toward an October return.

The presidents and chancellors just haven’t officially approved the plan yet.

After a weekend full of meetings that included details about the medical protocols needed to safely play, discussions about the best date to kick off the season and feedback from broadcast partners, the Big Ten appears to be on the brink of reinstating a fall football season that would most likely begin on Oct. 17. The conference’s Return to Play task force met with the top decision-makers for a roughly two-and-a-half hour presentation on Sunday, and while that didn’t yield a final vote, the mood from multiple Big Ten sources was decidedly optimistic.

The Detroit Free Press first reported on Sunday that there would be no decision immediately following the meeting. Lettermen Row sources had previously indicated that the process could spill over into Monday or potentially even Tuesday, though the path appears to be relatively clear for teams like Ohio State to play this season once teams that either aren’t comfortable or able to execute an October plan were given the option to opt out of the plan.

The Buckeyes have been at the forefront of bringing football back to the Big Ten this season, with Nebraska and Iowa joining them from the start in voting for a delay while weighing any fresh information or developments — like, for example, the new, cheaper, saliva-based COVID-19 tests that could allow for daily monitoring of football rosters.

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Ohio State coach Ryan Day has been fighting hard for his Buckeyes to get a chance to play. (Courtesy/Ohio State Dept. of Athletics)

“While I understand the Big Ten Conference’s decision to postpone the football season because of health and safety considerations, the communication of information from the Big Ten following the decision has been disappointing and often unclear,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said in a statement on Thursday. “However, we still have an opportunity to give our young men what they have worked so hard for: A chance to safely compete for a national championship this fall.

” … The Big Ten medical subcommittee has done an excellent job of creating a safe pathway toward returning to play in mid-October. These young men and their parents have asked so many questions that I do not have an answer to, but the one that hurts the most is “Why can these other teams and players play and we can’t?” Duke is playing Notre Dame, and Clemson is playing Wake Forest this weekend. Our players want to know: Why can’t they play?”

The Big Ten hasn’t answered that question yet. But the league now appears one big step closer to a resolution.

This is a developing story, and Lettermen Row will continue to update it as additional information becomes available.

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Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.