It became official at 1:33 p.m. Tuesday. Ohio State and Michigan won’t be playing football against each other this weekend.
Then, nine minutes later, Purdue announced it had canceled its Tuesday practice to “evaluate the results of recent COVID-19 testing.” Uh oh. Feels like we all know where this one is headed.
This week is gonna get real dumb, isn’t it?
The Bucket Game is kind of irrelevant at this point. Would IU like to beat the brakes off of a bad Boilers team? I’m sure it would. But after seven consecutive weekends of Big Ten football, a week of rest wouldn’t be the worst thing ahead of the upcoming crossover game. Or the Big Ten Championship game, because at this point, based on the rules agreed upon at the start of the season, Indiana is in.
But we all know what the conference is going to do. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez telegraphed it last week.
Nearly two hours after Michigan made the call to bag The Game, the Big Ten released statement that said, in part: “The conference is committed to transparency and will continue to collaborate with its member institution stakeholders to determine Big Ten Football Championship Game participation requirements as well as tiebreakers.”
In other words, a change — either in the form of a new game for Ohio State or a broken rule — is coming. Once that’s settled, IU’s leadership ought to ask what’s in it for them. Indiana football has been eating shit sandwiches for decades, some of them made in its own kitchen. But it agreed to the rules set in place at the start of the fall, gave the college football world arguably the best story of the season, and kept its program clean all the while. IU deserves some credit. And some sort of reward for excelling in a season where that was incredibly difficult — according to the rules the Big Ten laid out from the start.
The Big Ten’s situation is understandable. Getting Ohio State into the College Football Playoff is financially important. But the optics are terrible and the precedent is horrible.
So yeah, this is gonna get dumb.