If the Big Ten doesn’t play football in 2020, will Nebraska find other opponents so it can still play?
It’s a scenario that’s apparently on the table given what Nebraska coach Scott Frost said Monday. Big Ten leaders could announce this week that the conference won’t play football in 2020. If that happens, Frost said the school is “prepared to look for other options.”
“We want to play a Big Ten schedule, I hope that’s what happens,” Frost said. “Our university is committed to playing no matter what. No matter what that looks like and how that looks. We want to play no matter who it is or where it is. So we’ll see how those chips fall. We certainly hope it’s in the Big Ten and if it isn’t we’re prepared to look for other options.”
"Our University is committed to playing no matter what, no matter what that looks like and how that looks. We want to play no matter who it is or where it is."#Huskers HC Scott Frost on opponents for 2020. pic.twitter.com/kTPN9znv0v
— Husker Sports (@HuskerSports) August 10, 2020
Frost's presser feels like a last stand for the Big Ten season. “Our kids want to play. We want to let them play. I truly from the bottom of my heart believe that this is the safest place for them.” AND: "If i had a son, I'd want him playing football."
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 10, 2020
The Mid-American Conference said Saturday that it wouldn’t play football in the fall and is eyeing a spring season. The MAC’s geographic area overlaps heavily with the Big Ten’s.
The Big Ten was the first conference that said its teams would play a conference-only schedule in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pac-12 quickly followed suit and the SEC is also playing a conference-only schedule.
‘The sport may not recover’
Frost’s comments came after Nebraska football chief of staff Gerrod Lambrecht tweeted that the “ramifications will be so significant that the sport may not recover” if there is no football season.
Since the state of Nebraska has no major professional sports teams, Nebraska football is the biggest team in the state. And it’s not close. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse even wrote a letter to the Big Ten on Monday morning advocating for the season to happen.
Others push to play
As rumors have swirled about the Big Ten’s short-term football future, prominent voices have pushed to keep the season from going away. Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Penn State coach James Franklin tweeted their support for a season and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh even issued a statement Monday morning. Frost is hardly alone among conference coaches advocating for a football season.
Swinging as hard as we possibly can right now for these players!! This isn’t over! #FIGHT
— Ryan Day (@ryandaytime) August 10, 2020
I love our players & believe it is my responsibility to help them chase their dreams, both collectively & individually. I am willing to fight WITH them & for our program!#WeAre
— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) August 10, 2020
Who could Nebraska play?
If the Big Ten doesn’t play football in the fall and Nebraska is committed to playing games, it can always turn to its former conference. Assuming, of course, that the Big 12 is still trying to play football and would want its teams to play Nebraska.
The Huskers left the Big 12 for the Big Ten after the 2010 football season and Nebraska’s nine years in the Big Ten haven’t erased its ties to its former conference. But the Big 12 would have to be receptive to Nebraska’s desires in this scenario for any temporary rekindling of the relationship to happen.
If the Big 12 says no, Nebraska wouldn’t have many other major options. The ACC’s teams are playing one non-conference game and those are all decided. The Huskers could play teams from smaller conferences if conferences like the American, Conference USA and the Sun Belt are still moving forward with their seasons. Would that appeal to Nebraska? If the Big Ten cancels football and Nebraska wants to move forward, we may find out.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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