For the first time since its advent in 1890, Ohio State may not be playing a football season.
The Big Ten decided that the football season will be canceled for 2020 Monday, according to a report by the Detroit Free Press. The Big Ten, which is expected to announce its decision Tuesday according to the report, would join the Mid-American Conference and the Mountain West as Football Bowl Subdivision conferences to cancel their football seasons.
Despite earlier reports, a Big Ten spokesperson established that a vote had not occurred. Rather, a statement to reporters announced that the Big Ten presidents will meet Monday at 6 p.m. to make a final decision on the football season.
Ohio State did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day posted a message on Twitter in support of playing a season Monday afternoon.
“Swinging as hard as we possibly can right now for these players!! This isn’t over! #FIGHT” Day said.
Day called for the Big Ten to postpone its decision to cancel the season in an appearance on “College Football Live” on ESPN2 Monday evening. Day emphasized that the Big Ten schedule was set up for flexibility and to provide more time for a decision if needed.
“Because this schedule has provided some flexibility, I think we need to certainly not cancel the season,” Day said. “I think we need to take some time to kinda still evaluate some of these issues.”
Day also stressed that all options must be explored to give the players a season — which could include life outside the Big Ten if the conference choses to cancel its season.
“I think again, like I said, we need to look at every option,” Day said in response to playing outside the Big Ten. “If that’s the only option at the time, we need to explore it, see if that’s something we could possibly do, because if it is and that’s what’s best for our kids, then certainly we need to look at that and do it.”
The sentiment of fighting for the players was echoed by Penn State head coach James Franklin, as well.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh cited his team’s COVID-19 testing numbers as a defense to play the season. Harbaugh said in a statement Monday that Michigan had zero positive tests of the last 353 administered to the players and that there has been no contact tracing to any Michigan football facilities.
“We have developed a great prototype for how we can make this work and provide the opportunity for players to play,” Harbaugh said. “If you are transparent and follow the rules, this is how it can be done.”
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost took the support a step further by looking ahead to what would happen if the Big Ten season was canceled.
“Our university is committed to playing no matter what, no matter what that looks likes and how that looks,” Frost said. “We want to play no matter who it is or where it is, so we’ll see how all those chips fall. We certainly hope it’s in the Big Ten. If it isn’t, I think we’re prepared to look for other options.”
Over the days leading up to the decision, several Ohio State football players joined student-athletes around the country in the #WeWantToPlay movement, which called for the season to be played and for players to receive benefits such as opt-out opportunities and guaranteed eligibility if they decide to opt out.
“Restaurants are open, bars are open, all these other places are open and people have the freedom to do those things they want to do,” Ohio State center Josh Myers said in an Aug. 4 conference call. “I just feel like if people our age or any age can do those types of things, then I strongly feel like, if I want to, I should have the choice to play a college football season.”
The decision also goes against a statement released Sunday on social media by the Football Parents Association at Ohio State.
“We believe that this age group represents some of the healthiest individuals,” the FPAOS said in a statement. “While we recognize the risk cannot be eliminated, we believe the risk is minimal and the season can safely and responsibly occur.”
The Big Ten moved to a conference-only model July 9 in order to allow for more flexibility and control in handling COVID-19 during a football season.
“As I’ve learned more about the virus, I’ve shifted my priority of concern as it relates to what other leagues are doing and postseason to be quite frank,” Gene Smith, Ohio State athletic director, said July 9. “I just want to give our kids a chance to play.”
Ohio State’s 10-game season was set to begin Sept. 3 against Illinois.
The SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 are yet to make a decision on their fall sports seasons.
This story was updated at 3:11 p.m., Monday, August 10, 2020 with a tweet from Ryan Day.
This story was updated at 3:45 p.m., Monday, August 10, 2020 with messages from Big Ten coaches.
This story was updated at 4:23 p.m., Monday, August 10, 2020 with information on the Big Ten Presidents’ Meeting regarding the season.
This story was updated at 6:06 p.m., Monday, August 10, 2020 with the Mountain West cancelation and Ryan Day quotes.