Would Big Ten protocols potentially impact Buckeyes roster in CFP?

Would Big Ten protocols potentially impact Buckeyes roster in CFP?

Austin Ward10 months
Aritcle written by:Austin WardAustin Ward


Ryan Day and Gene Smith by Birm
Ohio State coach Ryan Day and athletic director Gene Smith have a great relationship. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State, the cancellation of The Game and moving forward to the Big Ten championship? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

There’s not much that ever stands up to much scrutiny about the College Football Playoff system, but having an uneven playing field for the four teams would be the icing on a nonsensical cake.

A spokesman for the CFP confirmed to the Toledo Blade on Wednesday that conference rules would continue to apply to any teams that make the bracket, meaning Ohio State would still be subject to the Big Ten’s stringent, out-of-date rules that require players who test positive for COVID to miss 21 days of action. Even in a sport that’s used to passing the buck on tough decisions, having different rules for two teams playing on the same field is hard to even remotely justify. But that’s the reality at the moment because the playoff organizers apparently haven’t recognized how they are undermining both the competition and the safety of its participants since the SEC, ACC and Big Ten aren’t all using the same standards.

Now, that could potentially change at the Big Ten level, and there have already been some preliminary discussions over the last couple weeks about lowering the return-to-play number to get in line with the current CDC recommendations. But at least for the moment, multiple sources have indicated to Lettermen Row that Ohio State will wait to have any additional conversations with the conference about the College Football Playoff protocol until next week — largely because it has to beat Northwestern on Saturday first.

(NOTE: The Big Ten championship game remains on as scheduled this weekend. Ohio State has obviously had positive tests within the program over the last four weeks dating back to its cancellation of the trip to Illinois. There are again expected to be players out of action in Indianapolis, though multiple program sources have indicated that number would currently be smaller than what it dealt with at Michigan State. At any rate, Lettermen Row will continue to not identify individual test results and respect the privacy of the players until the availability report is confirmed by Ohio State.)

Ryan Day-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State coach Ryan Day is looking for a second playoff bid. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

“I know it’s being looked at, I know it’s being talked about a lot,” Day said last week. “I know Dr. Borchers and the medical subcommittee and Gene [Smith], the presidents and the ADs, it’s all being talked about. Where it goes? I’m not sure. But I know it’s a topic of conversation.

“Things change. This is a time where we’ve all changed. We’ve certainly changed the season, we’ve changed things as time has gone on with the way guys can administer the cardiac test and those type of things — they’ve all changed and advanced. I know they’re taking a look at it to see if they can improve it.”

The recommendations are yet another factor that has changed since the rules were established, and the Big Ten has finally started showing more flexibility in recent weeks. Most notably, the league recognized that it had created a flawed tiebreaker and minimum-games requirement in order to compete for the conference title, and it proactively voted to change those rules.

The Buckeyes were the beneficiary of that move, of course. And obviously they are the only program that would be impacted by the Big Ten altering the testing standards for the College Football Playoff. It’s also worth noting that Ohio State’s own doctor has been leading the medical charge from the start as the season was salvaged, so Borchers could once again be needed to present the most current information to the league decision-makers in order for common sense, common rules and common good to apply across the playoff field.

Bottom line: The Big Ten protocol will apply to Ohio State if it punches a ticket to the College Football Playoff. But the conference rules could change, and that will be a discussion for next week.

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