It sounds like we could have the most significant news regarding the future of the 2020 college football season in the next few days, with the Big 10 reportedly close to implementing a 10-game season with only intra-conference matchups. There will be a meeting to discuss the move Thursday, with one coach anonymously saying he expects the notion to become the conference's new plan.
Rivals — This fact appears to be coming into focus: Non-conference games will be punted and the Big Ten appears headed to playing a 10-game, conference-games-only schedule.
“Yes, it hasn’t been officially decided,” said a Power 5 head coach. “We have a big meeting tomorrow (Thursday, July 9). But, yeah, it just seems to me that probably in the last week and a half, I could just kind of tell from the tone of our leadership that that's the direction that they want it to go and felt most comfortable going. Nothing has been decided. Nothing's official. But I would be surprised if it's not that.”
This meeting comes on the heels of the Ivy League's decision on Wednesday to suspend all fall and winter sports until at least January 1, aiming for a spring football season. While the ivy League's circumstances are somewhat unique, there are those who think the league's decision could have far-reaching implications both at the FCS level and possibly FBS, as well.
If this conference-only season does come to fruition for the Big 10, it would be by far the biggest shift in an upcoming football season. While it wouldn't necessarily force the other Power Five conferences to do the same, it would eliminate those teams' non-conference games against Big 10 opponents — Michigan-Washington, Miami-Michigan State and Ohio State-Oregon being the most high-profile — and make them at least find new opponents if they do go forward with their non-conference schedules.
But I have a feeling that if the Big 10 is going forward with this, it has already been discussed amongst the Power Five commissioners and it could very well be around the corner for those conferences as well. While there is no central decision maker for major college football, the conference commissioners seem to have mostly been on the same page since all this started.
Whatever ends up happening, I'm far less optimistic about the likelihood of college football — at least in the fall — than I was a month ago. The Ivy League postponing its season gave me the same feeling I had in those couple days between when it was the first league to axe its conference basketball tournament and when the entire sports world eventually shut down.
Make no mistake, the Big 10 adopting this schedule would have massive ramifications across college football. If we get it on-time at all, it looks now like it may be without non-conference matchups.