Big Ten Championship Football

Penn State head coach James Franklin holds the trophy after Penn State won the 2016 Big Ten championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour hinted Monday that an innovative plan was coming to create a Big Ten football season this academic year.

“We are far down the road on concepts,’’ Barbour said in a news conference. “We've put something together that I think is very compelling and our student-athletes and our fans and our communities will be pretty interested in.’’

Penn State coach James Franklin, in his news conference Wednesday, fleshed that out a little, referring to a winter season and a model that could involve a “bubble.’’

A winter football season is coming, according to multiple media reports. The games will be played in domed stadiums. Bucknuts, the 24/7 Sports network’s Ohio State website, first reported the story, citing sources within the Ohio State athletic department.

The plan, which has not been finalized or approved by medical advisors, is for Big Ten teams to play an eight-game schedule beginning on or around Jan. 1. A Big Ten championship game would be played in early March, allowing players six months to physically recover before a conventional season in the fall/winter of 2021.

Multiple games per day would be played, reportedly, in the domed stadiums in Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis, and St. Louis.

One apparent game-changer here is the Food and Drug Administration’s approval this week of the SalivaDirect diagnostic test for COVID-19, which will facilitate same-day testing and rapid result reporting.

The Big Ten basketball season would likely also begin in January. The conference held a conference call with Big Ten basketball coaches Thursday, but the details of the basketball schedule will have to wait until the NCAA comes forward with a plan for the season and NCAA tournament.

That plan is expected to be announced next month.