Even though the Big Ten Conference announced Wednesday that football would return, a significant amount of work is still do to be done.
University of Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst, who was part of the football scheduling committee in the return-to-competition effort, said details are still being ironed out by the Big Ten regarding the league’s schedule, but now his focus turns to preparing his team for the season.
“Right now you’re putting together the schedules, and there’s a little part of you that knows you’ve got to be flexible even as we’re putting this down,” Chryst said on the “Wisconsin Athletics Happy Hour” radio show Thursday night on 1310 WIBA and Learfield/IMG College. “There’s still some information, some details we need to get yet before we can finalize that schedule.”
UW athletic director Barry Alvarez was heavily involved in bringing football back this fall and chaired the scheduling committee. Chryst said the goals of the committee were to create a meaningful season, taking into account what all 14 league coaches wanted and listening to player input, while keeping the 2021 season “as normal as possible.”
The Badgers won’t return to the practice field until Sept. 24 after the athletic department instituted a two-week pause for the football and men’s hockey team activities due to COVID-19 tests. Public Health Madison and Dane County reported Wednesday that UW’s football team has had 42 positive COVID-19 tests between its players and staff since June.
Following the end of the pause, Chryst said the Badgers will have to ease into workouts before starting full practices.
“We couldn’t jump right into practice, even if you wanted to,” Chryst said. “But we’re well-positioned. I think we’re going to have enough time.”
When the Badgers will get into full pads is still being determined, but a number of Big Ten coaches said the target date for full-padded practices is Sept. 30, the latest day the conference-mandated daily testing program begins.
Chryst said those three-plus weeks between the pads going on and UW’s debut won’t be a traditional training camp, but look more like in-season weeks. He and his staff will utilize weekend days in an effort to avoid class conflicts, he said.
Loudermilk embraces responsibility of moment
The football season won’t be the same on or off the field for players, and UW senior Isaiahh Loudermilk said players must do their part to keep the season afloat.
“It’s going to take a lot of discipline,” Loudermilk said on the radio show. “It’s going to be a different feel, a different type of year. I feel like it’s going to take a lot more dedication to see this season through.”
The 6-foot-7 defensive lineman said it was difficult to see other conferences playing in recent weeks, but is appreciative that the Big Ten reconsidered its stance. He vowed to not take anything in his modified final season for granted, and believes his teammates will do the same.
“We’re coming home and not leaving home. If we go out, and we’re not thinking, we can contract (COVID-19), give it to somebody else, and that’s three games, 21 days we’re done,” Loudermilk said. “We’ve talked to a bunch of people about really being safe, because one mistake can cost you a couple games.”
Badgers fans weigh in of the return of Big Ten football
There's still time
Sure, they can. Not sure if they will change their minds, but the only thing that would make them ineligible is if they signed with an agent or something like that.— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) September 16, 2020
This is a terrible idea that's putting hundreds if not thousands of students, coaches, trainers, and assistants at risk. How can they justify it when cases are spiking in nearly every B1G college town?— Abbey Lee (@aqtbenz) September 16, 2020
Still work to do
That's my birthday, that first game. They need me in the stands because they've never lost when I've attended a game on my birthday. Take Ohio State, for instance. Opening Kickoff return game. Once have my field pass, I'll tell you what I think of the resumption of UW football.— chris van wagner (@CVWhoops) September 16, 2020
Put to the test
Glad our team gets a chance to compete. Medical details seem well thought out. I’d rather have them monitored daily than not playing, get COVID and don’t know it and have issues next year from an undiagnosed heart condition.— Susan Balsai (@sesbadger) September 16, 2020
Happy for the players and coaches who want to play. Very concerned that this is going to blow up. UW is quarantining dorms. Not sure how this will be any different.— Zach Kirchenwitz (@zkirchenwitz) September 16, 2020
Facing long odds
I hope all possibilities have been considered and precaution is on high alert. The odds of this to successfully run start to finish is long and players health and safety should be priority #1!— Bob Look (@BobLook) September 16, 2020
Follow their lead
It seems like the rest of the sports world is managing their way through things, it’s not perfect, but if HS and Pro’s are doing it, so can college football.— Jack Pine Express (@kwzanella) September 16, 2020
We have a long way to go before football is played in the B10. Only takes 5% of the 106 person roster to shut it down, thats a small number.— Jay Gugel (@Googs33) September 16, 2020
Accept no substitutes
bout time. Very excited especially having to watch other conferences play last week. Nothing like Big Ten Football!!— Dave Stoviak (@Stovie12) September 16, 2020
Room for debate
Just parents and coaches in the stands anyways so may as well enjoy the games in TV, etc. 😷— Mark Breyer (@MarkBreyer2) September 16, 2020
They caved under the pressure. I thought they made the right decision to postpone. Don't get me wrong I'm psyched to watch football I just thought the health concerns were valid.— Josh Huang (@tatts_n_scotch5) September 16, 2020
Was inevitable when other conferences started playing. Cannot cede any ground if you’re the big 10 brass.— Phillip Marquart (@pdmarquart) September 16, 2020
Pad them up or recruits will go south.— Sherman (@BestDamnBroker) September 16, 2020
Timing is everything
At least the students won't be late to games.— Kevin Gratz (@kevin_gratz) September 16, 2020
It appears so
I hope this bodes well for basketball.— Smewgal (@Smewgal) September 16, 2020
Back to the grind
I hope everyone stays safe and healthy— Nuclear Badger (@nuclearbdgr) September 16, 2020
Along for the ride
It kinda roller coaster’ish— chris c (@ccnice1) September 16, 2020