Big Ten College Football Has Returned; Is it all for Fun and Play?

photo courtesy of The Michigan Wolverines face the BYU Cougars at the offensive line at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbour, Michigan. Michigan defeated BYU in a 31-0 win.

Jordynn Blackwell

For months, the sports world was put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. But when the Big Ten announced on  Sept 24 that college football would return in the fall, playing its first game Oct 24, New Jerseyans and fans of Big Ten teams rejoiced. 
We spent our weekends during the summer months wondering whether some of our favorite pastimes like baseball, basketball, and most notably college football would even make a comeback. One by one, the National Basketball Association announced their plan, followed by Major League Baseball and even the National Football League, but college football remained in the balance. 
As suspected, the college football season is looking a little different than it has in the past. With two months dedicated to regular-season games, plus the conference championship held on Dec. 19, and the NCAA college football committee selection the following day, the schedule has been condensed due to all team activities being pushed back and the season beginning later. That being said, the teams in the Big Ten are only playing eight games within their conference, a very small number compared to the other Power Five conferences (PAC 12, ACC, SEC, Big 12). 
I have mixed feelings about [Big Ten return],” U.S. History and Psychology teacher at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Colleen Cramond said. “I am glad the players have the opportunity to play.[…] But I do think it’s unfair that the ACC teams will play a total of 11 games and the Big 10 schools will only be playing eight, yet they will each have the same chance at making the [College Football] playoffs.”
The decision of the Big Ten’s return came after a unanimous decision made by the conference’s participating universities like Pennsylvania State University, Ohio State University, and Rutgers University, to name a few.  
New Jersey’s favorite Rutgers University is a part of the Big Ten conference. Despite facing fierce competition, the Scarlet Knights have a sour record, only winning two out of eight games.
Rutgers football has really struggled the last few years,” Global Perspectives and philosophy teacher Daniel Valentine said. 
Valentine also highlights how even though Rutgers has had a bad spell in their past, he still gets excited watching them play.
“I am really excited to see what Coach Schiano is going to be able to do now that he is back,” Valentine said. “My first year at Rutgers was his first year as head coach. Rutgers struggled mightily then, but he brought a level of excitement and energy that turned Rutgers Football around.”
Even though the Big Ten’s return adds some light to Saturday mornings, there is still a very high risk that players and staff could contract COVID-19, especially in a contact sport such as football.
“I feel that there’s been a huge risk for the opening of schools in general,” current Running Back at Immaculata University and graduate of SPFHS Justice Hush said. “Knowing a lot of the behind the scenes aspects of big games adds to it. There’s a lot of parties that surround the games and players like the night before a game or the night after a big win. The students go out to party and celebrate, and that’s where the biggest risk comes into play.”
COVID-19 may not be the only negative factor in the Big Ten’s return. With consideration of players, students, and staff becoming sick, another question raised is regarding the intentions of the Big 10 and if they are only returning for financial benefit. 
The COVID-19 pandemic has put many sports leagues in financial jeopardy and that is especially the case for college football. With season delays and uncertainty coming into this season, conferences like the Big Ten could potentially lose over a billion dollars in revenue. This reveals how money can shift priorities. 
Despite the setbacks, the Big Ten’s season opener was a great success. Opening day was led by a matchup between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Nebraska Cornhuskers, which ended in a 52-17 win. Fans of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights were glad to see their victory against the Michigan State Spartans, which now puts them second in the Big 10 East.