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Five Bold Predictions for looming Big Ten season decision

Ryan Day-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State coach Ryan Day is pushing to get the Big Ten back in action. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Five Bold Predictions for looming Big Ten season decision

COLUMBUS — Ohio State wants an answer from the Big Ten.

It’s almost time to get one.

Multiple sources have indicated to Lettermen Row that the proposals from the conference’s return to competition task force are nearly complete, and two leading options have emerged for the presidents and chancellors to consider. There is an option on the table for next month, with Oct. 17 the targeted date for teams to kick off the season and potentially still compete in the College Football Playoff. And then there is a later option, most likely with the opening game around Thanksgiving that would potentially be aligned with the Pac-12, the only other Power Five conference that cancelled its fall slate last month.

Clearly the Buckeyes have a preference. Will there be enough support for their desired plan after Ryan Day pitched his case on Thursday?

“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,” Day said in a statement. “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?”

Eventually the Buckeyes and the Big Ten are going to get that chance. But when will it be?

Typically it’s dangerous to make predictions about a group of voters who have already proven they can operate nonsensically. But Lettermen Row is going to make an exception as the staff Bold Predictions make their return ahead of the critical, looming decision from the Big Ten.

Ryan Day-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State coach Ryan Day made his feelings clear this week. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Austin Ward: Ohio State, Big Ten will open season in October

If the Big Ten had simply done the logical thing last month and delayed the season, would there be any doubt that it was on track to play games when they are already happening now all over the country? In hindsight, that rushed decision looks more disastrous every day, and there’s really only one way for Kevin Warren and the conference presidents and chancellors to wipe the egg off their faces. No, there will not be a perfect season without some postponements or occasional shuffles to the depth chart — and that will be just as true in November or January. So, if the conference is truly going to make a good-faith effort to give players, coaches, families and football-reliant communities what they want, Oct. 17 is going to be the best option on the table. In the famous words of Tate Martell: “Don’t swing and miss — especially your second time.”

Birm: Ohio State will look dramatically different when it plays

When the Big Ten announces it will have a late-November start to its season, the Buckeyes will be forced to try and make do with a heavily depleted roster. The defections already started with Wyatt Davis on Friday morning, and there will be more top-ranked NFL prospects who follow suit. Justin Fields, Shaun Wade, Baron Browning, Josh Myers and a host of the Big Ten’s best players will not suit up for Ohio State if there’s no chance to win a national title this season. And thanks to the rudderless “leadership” of the Big Ten, that’s unfortunately where things are heading. New quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis will have the toughest decision of his young coaching career before the Buckeyes ever step on the field, because he’s going to have to decide which freshman quarterback is best suited to lead Ohio State in a season that could change the shape of the program and the conference for the foreseeable future.

Justin Fields-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is preparing for his shot to play again. (Courtesy/Ohio State Dept. of Athletics)

Tim May: Big Ten will pull off season starting next month

Oct. 17 has long been the put up-or-shut up start date for the revised Big Ten season as far as viability to be part of the College Football Playoff consideration. Count ’em: From Oct. 17 to Dec. 12 there are nine Saturdays, with Dec.19 reserved for the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis. The new schedule could be reduced from the original 10 games to eight, with the nine Saturdays obviously providing a little wiggle room for a game that has to be postponed. Eight is a workable number in regards to gaining eligibility to be considered for the CFP, and of course it would grow to nine for the two teams that play in the league title game. If it is a unanimous 14-team decision to proceed on with the season, then six intra-division game and two crossovers will suffice. If fewer teams answer the bell, then eight randomly drawn matchups with the exception of extending rivalries where possible would be the solution, with the top two teams playing in the title game.

Spencer Holbrook: Big Ten plays junior-varsity spring season

The Big Ten has shot itself in the foot too many times to count, so I don’t expect them to wake up any time in the next week and feel like being competent enough to make a good decision. The league will play in either November or January, giving no player who has aspirations for the NFL a reason to play. Even some of the players who choose to stay in school will opt out, creating a junior-varsity season for the league. Ohio State will still have the upper hand because it recruits better. And it might even give the Buckeyes a chance to have their young talent on the field earlier than expected — a silver lining, indeed. But don’t expect the Big Ten to become competent in time to make a good decision. Just expect a JV season. And if anything better than that happens, we can be pleasantly surprised together.

Will Crall: Ohio State, Big Ten teams will be October-ready

There has been a lot of talk about how it will take at least a month for teams to ramp up and get into shape before playing the first game. Baloney. Big Ten football players have access to the best strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists, trainers and support staff in the country. It’s not like these guys have been hanging out by the pool all summer. They have been working out for months, including some non-contact practices over the last couple weeks. Maybe the first game has a few more penalties than usual, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have 10 days of camp, and move right into game week. Anything longer that is a waste of time. I’m sure the players would tell you the same thing.

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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.