Opinion: Big Ten football's return makes all the sense in the world – and no sense at all

Sports Pulse: After a call with Big 10 commissioner President Trump is taking credit for their return

USA TODAY

INDIANAPOLIS – You understand why the Big Ten is doing it, playing football after all, starting the weekend of Oct. 23-24. It’s because the SEC is playing. And the ACC and the Big 12. Because they’re playing football in the NFL. And at high schools.

Seriously, you get it.

We know more about the coronavirus today than we did on Aug. 11, when the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they were postponing the 2020 college football season. COVID-19 testing has improved, getting cheaper, faster. Big Ten presidents believe they can minimize breakouts by performing rapid-result testing on every player and coach, every staffer, every day. They will be tested before practices and games, and if you test positive, you’re out for 21 days.

That’s the science, and you understand the science. But also you understand the optics:

In Ohio, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns just opened their 2020 NFL schedule. High school football is well underway. But they can’t play at Ohio State?

Here in Indiana, same thing. The Indianapolis Colts just played their opener. High school football is rolling. It hasn’t been perfect, no, with dozens of canceled games around the state, but they have football at stadiums in Bloomington and Lafayette. So why can’t they have it at IU and Purdue?

Notre Dame, located in the heart of Big Ten country, just played its first game. The Irish were able to do that after a coronavirus outbreak on campus three weeks earlier. Notre Dame took its students out of the classroom, made them switch to virtual learning, and stared down the pandemic. Students were back in class last week.

In a resounding victory over the coronavirus, the Irish football team played on Saturday, right there in South Bend, in front of a crowd of nearly 10,000.

And on national television.

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