We are … going to see Penn State football this fall.
That didn’t seem possible a month ago, after the Big Ten voted to postpone fall sports because of COVID-19. But after getting heavily criticized for postponing so early — while most of the rest of the country went ahead with their college football schedules — the Big Ten decided to call for a mulligan Wednesday morning.
The league announced it will begin football season the weekend of Oct. 23-24, with a schedule that includes nine games. Penn State and other Big Ten teams will play an eight-game regular season, then a “plus one” game to be played the week of the Big Ten championship game Dec. 19.
James Franklin posted on Twitter, “We are excited for our guys to have the opportunity to get back to action safely on October 24.”
— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) September 16, 2020
Fans, however, will not be allowed to attend games this season. Penn State and other Big Ten teams will not be selling tickets to the general public, although families of players will be allowed to attend.
By starting the season Oct. 24, Big Ten teams would be eligible to compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Franklin and other Big Ten coaches had mentioned in recent weeks that they were unhappy with the lack of communication from the Big Ten about the possibility of reversing course and playing football. That led to frustration from coaches, players and personnel around the league.
“These last several months have been riddled with uncertainty for our student-athletes, but they have handled it with class and dignity,” Franklin posted on Twitter.
“Our guys have remained relentless in following our COVID-19 protocols and in their preparations to be ready to play football.”
The big change, according to the Big Ten, is that now schools have access to daily rapid testing for the coronavirus. That was not the case when the league originally decided in August to postpone fall sports. The league’s statement said it has “adopted significant medical protocols” leading up to its reversal.
With rapid testing and better means of contact tracing, the league believes it’s much safer now to proceed with sports. The league’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to resume sports, after voting 11-3 last month to postpone for the fall.
“I am thankful the Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors considered the information presented by the Big Ten’s return to competition task force and determined we would return to football competition this fall,” PSU athletic director Sandy Barbour said in a statement.
“The opportunity to safely return to athletic competition is a positive for not only our athletics department, but our campus community and Penn State Nation. Most importantly, I am thrilled for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, as I know how much continued hard work they have put in during this summer and fall with their eyes on returning to competition.”