Is the 2020 Big Ten football season already in trouble? | Yahoo Sports College Podcast

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss the cancelation of Wisconsin’s game at Nebraska due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests for the Badgers.

Video Transcript

DAN WETZEL: Nebraska and Wisconsin is off. Wisconsin and Nebraska has been postponed. Wisconsin is suspending all football-related details for seven days. There is an outbreak in Wisconsin. Apparently, there's lots of outbreaks in Wisconsin, so not really surprising that it made it to the college football team.

One of the reported coronavirus positives is Graham Mertz, the new quarterback at Wisconsin who set the world on fire by playing out of his mind or just brilliantly against Illinois. He has tested positive and is now in a 21-day protocol mandated by the Big Ten. They are doing 21 days because they want to get through a virus and then have time for the heart to be 100%.

Buckle up. Buckle up. This is pretty much what we warned you about.

PETE THAMEL: The Big Ten's abundance of caution-- that phrase. Wouldn't starting earlier and giving yourself room to play provide more caution than waiting till the last possible minute and jamming it all in? That just never made sense. And I know a lot of the coaches in the Big Ten brought this point up time and time again. It just doesn't make any sense.

I've also heard that the basketball coaches are really trying to get the 21-day thing changed by the time they come. Because you think about this. You get a guy who tests positive the week of the conference tournament, he doesn't come back until the Final Four. And you probably don't make the Final Four if he's good. In basketball, it's gonna wipe out the team too.

Look, there is no right way to handle COVID, right? Nobody has a perfect strategy. But the strategy of not giving yourself a cushion to accommodate for inevitable delays, right now it's very easy to second guess that.

PAT FORDE: It is, Pete, except how were they supposed to do it differently? If you go back and look at the timeline, this was a rush just to get to starting on October 24th. They were like, that's the earliest we can get going. And the latest you can play if you want to be considered for the playoff is the 19th, which is when they've got their last weekend scheduled, their East versus West jamboree.

So I don't know what they could have done really. Now you can go back and we can all go back and run back over Kevin Warren's dead body a few more times about, well, they should have never delayed. They should have never said they weren't gonna play. They should have changed their mind faster. Those sort of things.

But to me, I think that they were stuck. They were in a bad position, and they made the decision. And now the decision is not gonna work for at least two teams.

DAN WETZEL: I don't think they ever wanted to play. I mean, look, if you go back and listen-- and please do because we need all the downstreams we can get-- I think I floated the idea start early and just have a flexible schedule. So we don't know what could happen this weekend. I have no idea. I'm just throwing these teams out there.

But let's say Purdue also has to pause. You have a flexible schedule. And then whoever Purdue was playing plays Nebraska. Or two weeks out. I just feel like this system has got no chance. I hope I'm wrong.

But I try not to be critical of the teams that came back, saying I know more than the doctors and you can't play. No, they could. And I don't want to be critical of the doctors that are saying, no, you need 21 days. But this system just seems doomed for failure.