Wisconsin's dream season is over following the news that 12 people involved with the program have tested positive for COVID-19, including coach Paul Chryst and quarterback Graham Mertz. Their game against Nebraska has been canceled. They now have six games remaining on their schedule and Mertz will miss three of them. Depending on how well they did stopping the spread, they might need to cancel more games. Heck, their season could be over.
The good news is that they would be undefeated and have looked dominant every time they stepped on the field if it ends like this. The bad news is everything else.
A vocal group of Big Ten players and parents fought for this and now they're dealing with reality. No matter how tough the conference's protocols were, this was always going to happen. Not because it's football, but because this was always the direction America was headed as the weather turned. Cases are spiking all over the country including B1G country where Wisconsin reported more than 5,300 new cases on Tuesday.
Things are only going to get worse and Wisconsin is probably just the first domino. UTEP and North Texas also canceled their game this weekend because of COVID. Houston's issues getting games has been well-documented.
Dan Patrick heard that Mertz "likely" had coronavirus before the Badgers game on Saturday, which makes sense if you have been paying attention to coronavirus at all. If you test positive one day, you probably had it for a day or two or three before the positive test, whether or not you have symptoms.
If everyone involved in that game gets lucky, Mertz was the only one who was infected going into Saturday and his offensive line did a pretty good job protecting him and maybe no one from Illinois was close enough, long enough to be infected. So Illinois escapes and continues their season. But what was a promising season for Wisconsin is now an afterthought. Whatever games they get in will be nice, but there is a public health crisis going on. Maybe it's time for the Big Ten to act like it.
Oh, wait. They did try to act like it. They tried to prioritize the health of their general communities over the need to make money and play sports and people complained and fought and protested and got the President involved. The same President who left supporters stranded in the freezing cold following an airport rally in Nebraska on Tuesday night.
By the time the Big Ten season is over, we may find out who really had the best interest of everyone in mind.