Photo Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Big Ten play football in the fall, after all?

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Jeff Potrykus, the conference’s football coaches are meeting to try putting together a revised schedule. One of the proposals would be for a season of at least eight games that would begin the week of Thanksgiving.

Potrykus’s report was soon confirmed by other college football media, including CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, and ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg.

The Big Ten is under intense pressure since canceling its fall sports schedule due to COVID-19 concerns, including football, in early August. While the Pac-12 also canceled its football season, other Power 5 conferences including the SEC, Big 12, and ACC intend to play football this fall. Those leagues playing while the Big Ten sits out would be a difficult situation for the conference.

Parents of Big Ten football players have been critical of conference commissioner Kevin Warren, asking him for further explanation on why the season was canceled shortly after a 2020 schedule was announced. One group of parents even protested outside the Big Ten’s headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois. Meanwhile, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields launched an online petition requesting that the conference reverse its decision.

Additionally, eight Nebraska players filed a lawsuit against the conference this week, contending the postponement interferes with the opportunity for players to market themselves for the NFL Draft, breaches a contract with student-athletes, and showed a lack of transparency regarding the voting process among schools.

Warren has maintained that the decision to postpone the 2020 season was ultimately made by school presidents and chancellors, and was intended to be final. Reportedly, officials were not just concerned about the spread of COVID-19 among football players, coaches, and staffers — as well as the general student population — but also the heart condition myocarditis and the coronavirus’s effect on it. (At least 10 Big Ten players are believed to have the condition, according to reports.)

Big Ten officials were previously considering a schedule that would begin in January and end in March, with indoor stadiums in regions such as Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Detroit possibly coming into play. NFL games scheduled around the same time would be an issue, however. Stadiums within the conference footprint, including St. Louis and Syracuse, could be used as well.

Purdue coach Jeff Brohm had also proposed a spring season that would begin in late February and end in April, with a postseason extending to mid-May.

Regardless, a fall or winter Big Ten football season would be shorter with the expectation that a full regular season could be played in Fall 2021.

As Feldman said in his tweet, conference coaches and athletic directors are consulting with medical personnel to determine COVID-19 transmission on campus, the number of positive cases, and pending breakthroughs in testing and treatment. Will much have changed from September to November? Will fewer students on campus after Thanksgiving also be a factor?

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez also indicated to Rittenberg that the best fit for TV networks may also be a consideration in when to play a football season.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.