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Source: Big Ten working on multiple options for football

A detailed view of a Big Ten logo is seen during game action between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Florida Atlantic Owls on Aug. 31, 2019, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(AP) — Big Ten coaches, athletic directors and medical personnel are working on multiple plans for staging a football season — including one that would have the league kicking off as soon as Thanksgiving weekend.

conference is in the early stages of a complicated process that also
involves broadcast partners and possible neutral site venues, a person
with direct knowledge of the conference’s discussions told The
Associated Press.

The person spoke Friday on condition of
anonymity because the Big Ten was not making public its efforts to have a
football season that starts in either late fall or winter. The
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the Big Ten was considering a
possible Thanksgiving start to the season.

The Big Ten announced
on Aug. 11 it was postponing its fall football season because of
concerns about playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pac-12 soon
followed suit, but six other major college football conferences,
including the powerhouse Southeastern Conference, are still forging
ahead toward a season that will start in September.

The Big Ten and first-year commissioner Kevin Warren have faced push back and criticism ever since, including a lawsuit filed by eight Nebraska players who want the decision overturned.

Big Ten’s decision and the subsequent backlash have trickled into
politics in this election year, with Democrats and Republicans pointing
fingers over who is responsible for taking away college football in the

“No, I want Big Ten, and all other football, back – NOW,”
President Donald Trump tweeted. “The Dems don’t want football back, for
political reasons, but are trying to blame me and the Republicans.
Another LIE, but this is what we are up against! “

Any plan will
need the approval of university presidents and chancellors, and the Big
Ten will only play if certain benchmarks related to the coronavirus —
such as transmission rates, testing capacity and availability, and
testing accuracy — are met in each of the 11 states that are home to the
league’s 14 schools.

“If they are met, that’s when they’ll get back,” the person told AP.

coaches, including Ohio State’s Ryan Day, have already said the sooner
the Big Ten can start a delayed season the better. Day has endorsed
starting in early January and that idea has been on the table
practically since the decision to postpone came down, the person said.

Starting in late fall was an idea some coaches laid out earlier this week, the person said.

option includes playing games at domed stadiums across the Midwest,
including in Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Detroit, another person with
knowledge of the discussions told AP on condition of anonymity.

person said using neutral sites could help broadcast partners televise
the games and help avoid potential complications of playing through
winter weather.

A two pronged-plan, laying out a framework for how a season can be staged and what benchmarks need to be met for it to be safe enough to play during the pandemic, could be rolled out by the Big Ten within two weeks, the first person said.