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The biggest questions facing NU and the Big Ten after the cancellation of fall sports

The biggest questions facing NU and the Big Ten after the cancellation of fall sports


So, what now?

That's the overarching question facing Nebraska and the Big Ten after Tuesday's announcement that fall sports were canceled.

There is a long, long way to go before anything is fully decided. But here's a look at a few of the biggest questions facing NU and the league moving forward.

How might a spring football season look?

The biggest question of them all, and one that opens up a whole world of issues at every turn. The Big Ten has appeared disjointed in its approach to the fall season, culminating with Tuesday’s news and an awkward television interview from Commissioner Kevin Warren.

Some of the league’s most prominent coaches — Scott Frost, Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), and Ryan Day (Ohio State) among them — spoke out against postponing only 24 hours prior to the fall season getting canceled.

There certainly appears to be disorganization, which won’t fly if the Big Ten truly wants to play in the spring.

Just look at the potential issues facing a spring season: Will COVID-19 be any more under control by then? Will even more players opt out of college to get ready for the NFL?

What happens with early enrollees such as Latrell Neville? Would they be allowed to play? Would a spring season count against their eligibility?

And for a league and commissioner that has trumpeted player health and safety over and over and over again, how will the Big Ten square canceling a fall season with playing a spring season and then trying to turn around and start another fall season a few months later?

Just how crazy could the spring get?

Imagine this: Nebraska football, volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s soccer, baseball and wrestling not only playing during the same week, but maybe even on the same day.

There are only so many days to get things in during the spring time. And in a place like Nebraska, springtime isn’t exactly predictable for weather. An already untenable situation could devolve into total chaos when it comes to scheduling not only games, but practice time in places such as the Hawks Championship Center.

Warren mostly evasive in BTN interview; says 'uncertainty' among medical experts fueled decision

How would Husker fans divide their time? Would attendance suffer at some events because of others taking place at the same time?

Everything is on the table right now, with no real clear answers as to how it all might fit together when the calendar rolls over to 2021.

Can the Huskers play this fall?

Scott Frost said Monday on Nebraska would explore every avenue to play in the fall. A statement from Nebraska’s leadership Tuesday indicated the same. But could NU actually go rogue and put together a fall schedule?

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta, who also pushed to play in the fall, on Tuesday referenced “membership criteria” that would not allow schools to play outside of the league.

Would there be consequences to Nebraska defying the Big Ten and setting up games with its old Big Eight/Big 12 foes, for example? Would the league relax any such “membership criteria” to let the Huskers play?

And don’t forget this, either. If Nebraska is able to cobble together and play a schedule this fall, no matter how many games it is, would the Huskers then turn around and try to play again in the spring?

What does this mean for winter sports?

If it wasn’t already, the shot clock just started ticking for college basketball to figure out what will happen in the coming months.

Division I teams can begin preseason practice 42 days before their first regular-season game. For Nebraska, that means a start date of Sept. 29.

That almost certainly is off the table now. There have been whispers in recent weeks of the Big Ten moving to a conference-only schedule starting sometime in 2021, and those whispers will only grow louder.

In July, Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said any scheduling decisions would likely come out of whatever happened in the fall.

“We’ve got a couple things that will happen before our sport with pro sports and with college football, and with volleyball and soccer,” Hoiberg said. “So we’ll have a pretty decent idea from those sports”

At the junior college level, the plan is for practice to begin Jan. 11, with games starting Jan. 29 and ending March 27. Would the big schools adopt something similar?

This is to say nothing of wrestling, in which the Big Ten is far and away the most powerful conference in the country.

The league had four of the top five teams in the in the final NWCA coaches poll (Nebraska was No. 4 nationally), and 10 of the top 25 programs nationally.

The wrestling season is concurrent with basketball, starting in early November and wrapping up in mid-March. What kind of schedule will those teams have?

Contact the writer at or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


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Husker men's basketball/baseball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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