(HOI) -- On August 11th, the Big Ten announced a conference vote (11-3) in favor of canceling the fall sports season. Just five weeks later, the conference revisited, revised, and re-voted on playing a fall season, the vote was unanimous, football will return to the Big Ten Conference in late October.
"A lot of the criticism that has been displayed over the last couple of month. You know, I take it as we are passionate," said Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren. "We are passionate in the Big Ten. We have passionate student-athletes. We have passionate families. We have passionate fans. So I take that from a positive standpoint. This is a happy day for us in the Big Ten, to be able to focus on going forward."
The Big Ten is expected to release a full 8-game schedule in the coming days. A schedule that starts the weekend of October 23rd and end on December 19th with a conference championship.
The schedule for each team will include six division games and two division cross-over games. It also features a unique twist to allow for all teams to play a ninth game.
Using the division standings, the teams in first place in each division will play each other, while the second place teams play each other and so on for all seven teams in both divisions. Meaning the conference will plan on all 14 teams playing nine games in nine weeks.
"We've already had a team meeting, you can imagine the excitement that the players have right now. You know it's a little bit different practicing when you know you're getting ready to play a football game," said Illinois Football Head Coach, Lovie Smith.
The road won't be easy for the Illini or any school in the Big Ten. Several Big 12 teams had their season openers postponed because of covid outbreaks from their opponents. However, the excitement is very palpable on Wednesday.
"I really am beyond excited for this athletic program, for the Illinois football team and for the young men who have chosen to be apart of this Illinois football program," said Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman. "I know how badly they want to play and I know how much today's decision means to them and the opportunity to go out into Memorial Stadium and to play a Big Ten schedule to have a chance to compete for a Big Ten Championship."
With the current Big Ten schedule, play will conclude just before the College Football Playoff committee determines its four playoff teams.
To see more from the University of Illinois following the Big Ten's decision, you can watch their Zoom press conference here.