Big Ten football tiebreaker scenarios must also adjust to coronavirus chaos: College football Monday Madness

Posted on

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Big Ten Conference believed its division champion tiebreaker scenarios accounted for every possible logjam.

Two teams tie with the same number of wins and losses? No problem. Three or more teams tied? Child’s play. The Big Ten set up an eight-factor process to break the tie. Only after all possible comparisons are exhausted does the last resort — random draw — come into play.

Even that carefully prepared, multistep document could not account for the biggest threat to well-laid plans in 2020 — the coronavirus pandemic. The Big Ten’s eight-games-in-as-many-weeks regular season, followed by the crossover championship weekend, allows no room for postponements. If a team can’t play one week, it will not make that game up.


• Two divisional foes end the season with the same number of losses, but a different number of wins because one of them had to cancel a game due to positive COVID-19 tests. Does that count as a tie for the division championship?

• What about three teams tied in the loss column, all playing a different number of games, some of them not playing all of their divisional opponents?

• Here’s a true brain-breaker for Big Ten bigwigs: Ohio State and Penn State cancel their Week 2 game. Both go undefeated in their other games. Who goes to the Big Ten championship game? (Or if you prefer, imagine OSU and Michigan going 7-0 and then having to cancel The Game.)

I can confirm the Big Ten has pondered that “oh crap” moment and the others above. As of today, it does not have answers. But from what I’ve heard from a league source, a policy that governs these doomsday scenarios will be in place by opening day.

When that document comes out, expect something more complicated than