When the Big Ten cancelled its 2020 football season on Aug. 11, many fans, coaches, and players were outraged at how early the decision was made. No games had yet been played, and many felt as if the Big Ten jumped the gun on canceling the season.
On Sept. 19, the Big Ten officially reversed course when they announced an eight-game schedule that would include a ninth game for each team during conference championship week. Each team will play their typical six division games as well as two non-divisional matchups. When conference championship week rolls around, the best team in the east division and the west division will match up for the Big Ten title game, like they would any given year.
What will be different from any other year for the Big Ten is the additional matchups during conference championship week. The place a team finishes at in their division will determine who they face from the opposing division. The last place east team will play the last place west team and so on from there.
The Big Ten and commissioner Kevin Warren backtracked their decision amid heavy scrutiny and criticism from the likes of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, and the parents of players from the Iowa Hawkeyes. Shortly after the announcement that the season would be cancelled, the aforementioned Fields started a petition to play the season in hopes that it would force the hand of Warren and the Big Ten. The petition received over 250,000 signatures after one day.
For Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, he had one simple message for Kevin Warren and the committee: Free the Big Ten. Harbaugh attended a parent-led protest of the Big Ten’s cancellation decision, and he was instrumental in the Big Ten changing their decision. On August 29th, Harbaugh tweeted “Stay Positive! Test Negative! Play Football!” For Harbaugh, Fields, the parents of the athletes, and the fans, they got their wish. Big Ten Football is officially back.