Gabe Garcia – column mug

After much pressure from the players, the coaches and the parents, the Big Ten is finally heading back to the football field Oct. 23.

They would be starting back up much sooner than that if the decision makers' arrogance, incompetence and impatience hadn't gotten in the way.

The Big Ten quite simply didn't know their place when they initially decided to postpone their football season until the spring last month. The member schools' presidents and commissioner Kevin Warren foolishly assumed their conference would set the trend that all the others must follow.

The Pac-12 bent the knee, and that's a discredit to that conference. But the Big Ten and Pac-12 are joined at the hip, namely the Rose Bowl, and share a similar elitist disposition against the other Power Five conferences.

(Remember that the Big Ten is the same conference that originally named its two divisions Legends and Leaders, in a previous display of its traditional sickening arrogance.)

Which makes it less surprising that the ACC, SEC and Big 12 told the Big Ten and Pac-12 to stick it in their ears and proceeded with plans to play out their college football seasons through the COVID-19 pandemic as safely as possible.

The ACC and Big 12 opened play last weekend, mostly without incident. (One ACC game between Virginia and Virginia Tech was canceled due to the latter school having actual coronavirus issues.) The SEC is fixing to start up two weekends from now.

And the Big Ten was left with egg on its face.

It didn't have to be that way. The Big Ten could've stuck with the fall conference-only schedule it had approved just six days before it decided to postpone outright, which would've started its season on Labor Day weekend. It could've waited out the situation and adjusted as necessary.

You know, things actual leaders do.

The Big Ten cited new medical information, including rapid testing, as the reason for its reversal Wednesday. In other words, the same medical information that allowed the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, ACC, SEC and Big 12 to proceed with their seasons.

Make no mistake, the reversal was about saving face. And good for the athletes who finally get to have a season, but the Big Ten is now in a bind even when it does return to play.

With only eight regular-season weeks and one week dedicated to the conference championship and undercard match-ups, and with no bye weeks available, the conference has no margin for error in case a member program does run into COVID-19 issues if it wants to get a team into consideration for the College Football Playoffs.

And then there's the intense protocols in place – necessary precautions to be sure. Athletes must wait 21 days after a positive COVID-19 test before returning to action. Teams with more than five active cases must shut down operations.

One would hope the Big Ten football season would proceed without incident, but right now it's a house of cards waiting for one small nudge to topple it all.

But that may be the price the Big Ten has to pay for being presumptuous the first time.

Gabriel Garcia is a sports writer for The Daily Post-Athenian. Email him at gabriel.garcia@dailypostathenian.com

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