Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The Big Ten announced Thursday that it will move all fall sports to a conference-only schedule.
Why it matters: This will have a snowball effect on the rest of the country, and could force all Power 5 conferences to follow suit, resulting in a regionalized fall sports season.
Driving the news: The Pac-12 is expected to make a similar decision in the coming days, sources told The Athletic.
- The ACC will likely follow suit, at least for football, sources told Stadium. And it will assist independent Notre Dame with filling out its schedule if needed.
The big picture: While this news is jarring, non-conference scheduling would improve the chances of fall sports actually being played, as it cuts down on travel and limits outside variables (i.e. conferences having different testing protocols).
- Going this route also buys time and gives conferences more flexibility to cancel/postpone games and make other real-time decisions during the season.
By the numbers: In the case of Big Ten football, canceling non-conference games affects 36 scheduled opponents.
- Five marquee matchups — Ohio State at Oregon, Michigan at Washington, Notre Dame at Wisconsin, Penn State at Virginia Tech and Miami at Michigan State — will be eliminated.
- Six FBS schools — Ball State, Bowling Green, BYU, Central Michigan, UConn and Northern Illinois — were scheduled to play two Big Ten opponents.
- Eight FCS schools will lose their games against Big Ten schools, which also means they'll lose the six- and seven-figure money guarantees that help fund their athletic departments.
The last word: "We're in a perpetual state of fluidity right now in dealing with all of these issues," Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told the New York Times.
- "We're taking it one step at a time, and we're also prepared not to play the season if circumstances dictate."