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Buckeye Fans Disappointed By Big Ten's Move To Postpone Football Season

Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson catches a pass over Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz.
Rick Scuteri
/
Associated Press
Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson catches a pass over Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz.

The Big Ten's decision Tuesday to cancel the fall football season was the latest sign that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from slowing. But Buckeye fans around Columbus were hit hard by the news.

“It’s tough," said Greg Wright, who was dining at Plank's Bier Garten on South High Street. "When you’re a Buckeye fan, you’re a Buckeye fan, and not getting to see them play is very disheartening. In my own personal opinion, I think it’s a crock.”

Wright is skeptical about how big a threat the virus poses. Instead he worries what the move means for those headed to the NFL. He also wonders how the changes might impact recruiting, as rising high school players try to catch on with college teams.

Ohio State University is set to start bringing students back to its Columbus campus on Wednesday, with heightened safety measures like weekly COVID-19 testing for those living in dorms.

Football players and other athletes have already been back for several weeks, holding voluntary practices for the now-postponed season, and were among the most vocal advocates for playing in some form this fall.

“This is an incredibly sad day for our student-athletes, who have worked so hard and been so vigilant fighting against this pandemic to get this close to their season,” said Athletics director Gene Smith in a statement from the university Tuesday. “My heart aches for them and their families."

Incoming Ohio State president Kristina Johnson said she will work to "return our student-athletes to competition as soon as possible, while staying safe and healthy."

Ohio State suspended all voluntary athletic workouts for a week in July, after a round of COVID-19 testing, but did not disclose how many athletes tested positive. The university statement says workouts and training will continue, but school officials are still hammering out details. They insist though that student with scholarships will keep them, and the current testing protocols won't slacken.

The Big Ten left open the possibility for playing fall sports in the spring, and has yet to make a decision on winter sports. Another college conference, the Pac-12, also postponed sports competitions until 2021.

Sitting in a car with his kids, Monty Elmore said he doesn't expect the pandemic to allow for football to be played anytime soon.

“They say we haven’t seen the worst of this virus, and it’s almost flu season," Elmore said. "I expect to see it be pushed back some more, maybe even put off for the whole year. I would like to see them play, but not at the cost of their life.”

Many football fans criticized the Big Ten for delaying its decision on fall sports. The conference already planned for schools to only play games against other Big Ten schools, and just last week released a schedule for the shortened 10-game football season.

“They should have thought about what they were going to do when they knew coronavirus was coming, you know what I mean, like way back in April," says Simone Sanders. "But you wait until almost September, when you know football season is coming.”

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warrent said the conference wanted to be prepared for any scenario, but COVID-19 provided too much uncertainty for the fall.

"We felt it was important to plan to organize a schedule that, if we were fortunate to play fall sports, especially football, we would have a schedule in place," Warrent said Tuesday. "But you know six days is six days, and I made it very clear that is a day-to-day situation."