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Big Ten votes to restart football, 2020 season to begin Oct. 23

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Will the Pac-12 follow?

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Never say never. Just ask the Big Ten Conference, which announced Wednesday it will play football this fall after previously cancelling the season a month ago.

An 8-game regular season will begin Oct. 23-24, with the Big Ten championship game set for Dec. 19 (the day before the final CFP rankings). A ninth game will be available for all teams on Dec. 19, with matchups to be determined based on the standings.

The Big Ten was the first major conference to cancel fall sports back in early August, with the Pac-12 following suit shortly after (though it canceled all competition through the end of 2020). But since then the league has been under major scrutiny for its decision-making process, which did not include revealing what the initial vote to cancel was—turns out it was 11-3—or what information it used to form its decision.

Better medical information and testing options contributed to the choice to have another vote, as did heavy pressure from the Nebraska and Ohio State contingencies, two of the three schools (along with Iowa) not to initially vote in favor of cancellation.

During the hiatus, though, numerous Big Ten football programs have had to “pause” activities due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

With the Big Ten set to return it leaves the Pac-12, Mid-American and Mountain West as the only FBS conferences not playing this fall.

The Pac-12 could still come back before 2020 is over, but that hinges on two things: getting the rapid COVID-19 testing equipment and tests it contracted with Quibel Corporation for—those are supposed to be at every Pac-12 school by the end of September—and statewide health restrictions in California and Oregon are eased.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement shortly after the Big Ten’s announcement, reiterating this point while also noting the massive wildfires going on across the West Coast: “At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice. We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition. We are equally closely monitoring the devastating fires and air quality in our region at this time. We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority officials.”