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B1G 2020: Not a New Normal, Just...New

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You haven’t been wondering what’s going on with our 2020 Big Ten previews, but we’re going to tell you anyway.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 03 Maryland at Rutgers
who the fuck taught schiano how to wink
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Normally, by now, we’d be five weeks into B1G 2020.

Five weeks into pissing matches about Rutgers not belonging in the Big Ten, potlucks about your favorite bars in Big Ten college towns and also some football—why not, tracing Nebraska’s decline, sage predictions that Indiana would bowl in 2019, wondering whether Minnesota’s a football school now.

There would be some comfort—moribund programs like Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Nebraska Cornhuskers would already have been previewed—and some surprises—Illinois Fighting Illini Week wouldn’t have kicked off under next Monday!

Of course, that’s not the reality.

The novel coronavirus outbreak has been—and trust me on this one, as of March 31 I officially became a doctor; no further questions, thank you—bad. It’s canceled spring games and practices, thrown the 2020 season into question, and forced us to look at how college football actually looks out for its revenue-generators’ best interests (it doesn’t, but you and I both know that).

And, as it turns out, we still don’t know what the fuck is going on.

But, as that ESPN article told us, there’s now a six-week timeline for returning schools back to practices so the football season can kick off as—wait for it—normal in everyone’s favorite resurrected tradition, Week 0. It’s not as bad as it sounds—Notre Dame Fighting Irish was supposed to play that day, a marquee name totally anathema to the oeuvre and general spirit of Week 0. (They no longer are.)

As part of that timeline, we get this:

The NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee passed a six-week practice plan Thursday in order to kick off the season on time.

The plan now heads to the NCAA Division I Council for approval at its meeting Wednesday.

...

The color-coded plan, first obtained by ESPN earlier this week, remains nearly the same after the committee received feedback from member schools. The only change is to the period between July 24 and Aug. 6 that is for summer access with walk-throughs and meetings.

During this period, schools are allowed eight hours per week of strength and conditioning, six hours per week of team meetings and six hours per week of walk-throughs, which gets to 20 hours per week. The committee clarified that schools can have flexibility in determining how to split up that time, provided they do not exceed four hours per day.

Yes, we have moved on to the part of the season where we now pretend that coronavirus does not exist and that teams actually adhere to the 20 hours per week rule, just like they adhere to the unsupervised workouts rule. Never mind the virus spikes in Florida. Or Texas. Or the South and Sun Belt generally. FOOTBALL MUST HAPPEN.

Since that’s what we do here—football, occasionally, when not being your Big Ten Lifestyle Blog—we’ll talk about it. And hoooooooboy, is it gonna be fun when we get to Iowa Week.

In the meantime, though, this is your update on the New B1G 2020:

What changes?

Functionally, just the timeline in which articles are delivered.

We’ll still bring you everything you know, love, and mostly hate about B1G 20XX, just on a compressed timeline. Our goal is to still bring you the same format—team-specific pieces to start plus a potluck piece later in the day:

What do you write about?

The general schedule of team-written pieces:
Monday: Cocktail Party Preview (what to expect, talking points, etc.)
Tuesday: Coaches (changes, paeans, torches-and-pitchforks)
Wednesday: Fandom and Traditions (or other wild-cards)
Thursday: Culture and Other Sports (time for Indiana to brag about baseball!)
Friday: Hate, Self-Hate, and More! (see below)

The general schedule of potlucks:
Monday: General Impressions [/salutes]
Tuesday: Offense
Wednesday: Defense
Thursday: Predictions
Friday: A complete wild-card, if it happens at all

Now, instead, those articles will just come Faster and Furiouser (call me, Kevin Hart—I’ve got a script for you). We’re still working out the kinks of what that’ll look like, but generally speaking it’ll be one of two options:

  1. Two teams at a time, with Rutgers Week operating in the morning and Maryland Week operating in the afternoon, for example. (Those would be, of course, the first two teams because Jim Delany’s TV-chasing will haunt us long into the next decade.)
  2. Abridged “Weeks”: Rutgers Week would run, for example, Monday to Wednesday, with Maryland Week picking up Thursday to Saturday.

Thoughts? Here’s a poll:

Poll

Which option sounds better?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    OPTION 1: Parallel weeks—gimme Rutgers with my coffee, Maryland with my siesta
    (154 votes)
  • 44%
    OPTION 2: Abridged weeks—PACK MY RUTGERS CONTENT INTO 3 DAYS HELL YEAHHHHH
    (123 votes)
277 votes total Vote Now

If all goes according to plan and the season isn’t scuttled at the NCAA Football Division I Council meeting on Wednesday, we plan to start with Rutgers Week (in whichever format) on Monday, July 6.

In the meantime, from all of us at Off Tackle Empire, I want to sincerely thank you for sticking with us throughout these last few months. We are not journalists pulling the hottest scoops, we are not news reporters breathlessly telling you the latest battle for a 5* between Penn State and Ohio State, we are not Professional Commentators with Important Thoughts—hell, we check our op-eds about as much as the New York Times. We’re just a bunch of amateur sportsblogyellers, as I believe the nomenclature goes, talking shit in one breath and sharing paella recipes or microbreweries to visit in the next.

I list those two because I’m looking for both; please help.

If you have suggestions for B1G 2020, I have two requests of you:

1. Leave them in a detailed comment, but keep my above qualifiers in mind—we know Hate Fridays are now perpetually stale and you are Not Mad about them; we are looking for whatever we can to fill that void.

And that leads me to...

2. If you think you can add something, write a Fanpost! One of the best offseason series on any website across the rapidly-shrinking SBNation blogosphere has been Kind of...but not really’s quest to find the Worst Big Ten Team Since 2000. [The answer may shock you!] Write something! We will, assuming it’s appropriate and not a Unabomber-esque manifesto, front-page it. After all, you guys and gals and folx and everything in between are the ones who make Off Tackle Empire great.

If I’m being honest, I don’t expect this to become a New Normal, whatever the fuck that means. B1G 2021, assuming Off Tackle Empire still exists—and/or I don’t somehow, like Michael Scott, accidentally become the highest ranking member in the SBNation College Football vertical thanks to layoffs and acquisitions—will be back to the 15-week slog you know and love.

In the meantime, we’ll compress 15 weeks into 7 or 8. (Perhaps we can dust off America Week to get you guys primed and ready for...Rutgers, I guess.) We’ll still have potlucks, we’ll still have All-Conference Talent at every Minnesota position, we’ll still have Hate—of all those things, I’m sure.

We’ll still have deafening silence one day when I forget to post an article in which I Clockwork Orange myself and watch 2019 Northwestern, we’ll still have Candystripes’ Indiana self-loathing and the manic stylings of babaoreally and Boilerman31 on Purdue, we’ll still have beez and MC Clap snarkily reminding us that wisconsin runs the West.

We’ll still have a hasty Thursday dump of six Michigan State articles when Andrew wakes from under a pile of wedding magazines and Mickey Mouse hats, we’ll still have Thumpasaurus’ mania on podcasts, we’ll still have Brian Gillis being far too good a Michigan writer for this site.

So I guess this is normal. It’s new, but...it’s not, really.

Thanks for being part of OTE. Welcome—almost—to B1G 2020.