UPDATE: Michigan-Ohio State has been canceled due to Covid-19. Now we wait to see if the Big Ten changes its rules.
There weren’t a lot of rules imposed on the 2020 college football season by the Big Ten Conference. But we did have a few, and here are the big ones:
- No games with fans
- Conference games only (sorry Nebraska, win more and talk less)
- You have to have enough scholarship players at key positions (aka on the offensive/defensive lines) to safely play a game
- You have to play six games total to qualify for the Big Ten Championship Game
Well some of these apparently weren’t “rules” as much as “things we recommend” as it seems like the B1G might renege and allow Ohio State to win the division anyway even if Michigan can’t compete in The Big Game next Saturday due to Covid-19 issues in Ann Arbor.
B1G ADs will likely change B1G title game requirements to allow 5-0 Ohio State in title game if it can’t play 6th league game, sources told @Stadium. But it won’t be an easy decision, source said. A win in B1G title game would all but guarantee Buckeyes a spot in @CFBPlayoff— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 5, 2020
Yes, clearly Ohio State is the best team in the conference. Although they struggled with Indiana at times, the talent gap is pretty large between Columbus and the rest of the league, especially because of rough years at Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State.
But what’s the point of having these rules if they can be changed ad hoc? The point was to give teams an incentive to keep Covid-19 out of their locker rooms and play. tOSU missed the Maryland game with the coronavirus amongst their team and with their head coach. If all three games missed were because of the opponent, there might be a better case here.
If I’m Indiana, I’m furious about this. If they beat Wisconsin today and Purdue next week, how fair is it that they played by the rules all season, had no outbreaks, only lost by a touchdown in The Horseshoe... but can’t play for a championship and a Rose Bowl berth?
There’s no perfect solution here, and there’s valid arguments on both sides. But making rules up to favor the brand and prestige programs has been something college football has been accused of since the beginning of time. To just do it so out in the open is pretty brazen.
We’ll see what happens, but if the history of the sport is any indication... we don’t like your chances, Hoosiers.