Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Green: What the return of Big Ten football means to me

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen
In a year unlike any other, each and every day has proven to be a daily challenge for myself since March 12. With cancellations and postponements reigning down on a daily basis, things finally hit home on Sept. 5.
It was a splendid Saturday morning with blue skies and fall right around the corner. ESPN’s College Gameday took to the air, but a hole would be missing that day. 
No Big Ten football for what appeared to be until 2021 at the earliest and no going to Seattle to cover what would have the opener for the Michigan Wolverines as they would have traveled to take on the Pac-12’s Washington Huskies. Imagine the primetime lights, a packed Husky Stadium on a Saturday night with Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt calling the game on FOX. What could have been, but that is 2020 in a nutshell.
Reality sunk in that there would be no games to cover, no fellow media members to interact with in person, no media scrums. Instead, I was simply another person walking to the day job with no creativity or vitality. Having thoughts I have never thought before was not fun at all, especially when you can’t relate to anyone because they are living alternative lives in relationships/being married or not caring about sports, which is their element, but not mine.
My element is being able to not only do podcasts, but to get experience of the smells and sounds of stadiums across the Midwest on Saturdays. Knowing that the latter would not happen for at least this season sucked. The last 11 days were tough as the Big 12 and ACC returned to the gridiron, why not the Big Ten? The decision appeared to be final so there was no point of debating, but it left me in the dark cloud for the first time in my life— lack of creativity. The dark cloud destroyed any motivation for doing future podcasts because I figured what’s the point if there is nothing to look forward to.
Then, a ray of hope occurred Wednesday morning with the return of Big Ten football beginning Friday, Oct. 23 with a nine-game schedule capped off by the Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN on Dec. 19. I am stoked not only to get that date, but for teams who finish two through seven play in cross-divisional matchups that day.
Even if everything for our website content ends up being virtual with the Big Ten this season— it will be better than nothing. The start of the Big Ten season gives me and others I know in the sports media industry— hope.
There will be critics of the Big Ten season being completed on time. The critics can linger around like flies, but I have to have hope at this stage. Hope is all that I have right now and others can relate. 
Even if it is from a distance, I look forward to talking Big Ten football again with athletes and media members once again. There is something special about hearing the stories of players from all walks of life, which is something I can’t get in the real world.
While the country remains as divided as we ever witnessed, the return of Big Ten football brings some much-needed unity, even it is only for a few hours a week.
Let’s all walk this journey together on a Big Ten season unlike any other and make the ride glorious.