Big Ten Reportedly Considering Starting Football Season in Late November

By Dan Hope on August 28, 2020 at 11:58 am
Ohio State helmet

The option for Big Ten football teams to play games before the end of 2020 appears to be back on the table.

According to multiple reports, the Big Ten is now considering the possibility of starting its postponed football season around Thanksgiving weekend. Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was the first to report the news on Thursday night.

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reported Friday that early January is “still getting the most attention” as a potential start date, but that the late November option is now being discussed.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Friday that “multiple plans are and have been discussed,” including a potential late fall start, but that no decision has been made.

According to's Tom Dienhart, a season starting in late November could be a 10-game season with the Big Ten Championship Game played on March 15, while the conference is also still discussing an eight-game season that would start in the final week of December and conclude in the third week of March.

Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reported that conference coaches and athletic directors have discussed possibilities that range from starting around Thanksgiving to starting after the Super Bowl, but “nothing has been decided or approved by the presidents and TV partners.” He also reported that the option to start the season in early fall remains off the table.

The conference's presidents and chancellors and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, of course, are the ones who will ultimately decide when the football season can start after they made the initial decision to postpone the season on Aug. 11. 

These reports come after eight Nebraska players filed a lawsuit against the Big Ten on Thursday, calling for the conference to reconsider its decision to postpone the season to January, and more than two weeks of unrest around the conference since the decision was announced.

That said, it's unlikely a late November start to the season would allow the Big Ten to participate in the College Football Playoff, which is still scheduled to be played in early January, unless the ACC, Big 12 and SEC encounter significant delays in their efforts to play this fall.

Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported Friday that the Pac-12 is exploring the possibility of a six- to eight-game season starting in January, with hopes of the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions meeting in a season-ending Rose Bowl.

It's expected that games starting in late November would still be played in dome stadiums, as has been discussed for the Big Ten's potential winter season, but that start date would coincide with the end of the fall semester at many conference schools including Ohio State, which will not be holding in-person classes after Thanksgiving this fall.

It could also end up running parallel with the college basketball season, as the NCAA men's basketball oversight committee is reportedly pushing for a Nov. 25 or Dec. 4 start to the season, per CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein. Per CBS Sports' Matt Norlander, the Pac-12 is considering reversing course on its initial decision to postpone all sports until January, a move the Big Ten did not make despite an “understanding that the Big Ten would make near-identical decisions.”

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