Bock’s Score: Big 10 Reverses Course

That was a nifty naked reverse the Big Ten Conference pulled the other day.

You know about the reverse. You fake a play in one direction and then when everybody is headed that way, you change direction.

Hah ha. Fooled you.

First, the Big Ten, exercising an abundance of caution in the wake of the nationwide Covid-19 pandemic, called off the football season, leaving thousands of tailgaters in its member school parking lots crying the blues.

Then, the Big Ten, exercising no caution in the wake of the pandemic, reinstated the sport.

Yippee. Yahoo. Bring on football Saturdays. Fire up the cookouts.

Players and parents, lusting for NFL teams to scout new talent, were delighted. So was America’s cheerleader in chief, Donald Trump, who looked at the map of presidential electoral swing states, noted the presence of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all hosts of Big Ten schools and urged them to play.

Never mind that over 8,500 cases of the virus have been reported at Big Ten cities. Play on!

All 14 teams will play eight games in eight weeks and hope to get to a ninth on a Dec, 19 conference championship game in Indianapolis and maybe the super lucrative College Football Playoff. After an 11-3 vote to postpone the sport, the presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to change their minds. You know, “upon further review.’’

Instead of packed stadiums, there will be a limited number of fans. What there will be cash registers masquerading as television cameras generating revenue for the member schools.

Morton Shapiro, chairman of the conference’s presidents’ council, explained the decision to play saying, “Medical opinions changed.’’

Not for the 200,000 Americans who have died from the virus. And not everywhere.

There is, for example, Florida State, long a football powerhouse. The Seminoles are currently operating without head coach Frank Norvell, who is isolating himself from the team for 10 days after testing positive for the coronavirus. Deputy head coach Chris Thomsen will take over with Norvell continuing to be involved with the team remotely.

Then we have defending national champion Louisiana State. Sadly, players who come down with the virus can’t play remotely. This is a problem at LSU where head coach Ed Orgeron announced that almost the entire team had contracted the virus.

Not to worry, though. Orgeron assured LSU fans that after their required isolation, all the student-athletes will all be available for the season opener Sept. 26. After testing positive, they need not be tested again for 90 days.

Phew! That’s a relief. You can’t have a college football season with the defending champions sidelined by a pesky, invisible virus.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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