Wisconsin senior Jack Coan was a preseason nominee for just about every quarterback award in the nation, including the coveted Maxwell Award.
But all that recognition wouldn’t have mattered if there wasn’t a football season to be played.
So, it’s completely understandable that Coan’s voice cracked with excitement after Wednesday's Big Ten announcement that there will be conference football this fall.
"We got really good news, the best news I’ve heard in a long time — we’re playing football in the Big Ten," he said. "It’s super exciting and somewhat unexpected because we didn’t know what was going to happen for this year."
Coan, a Big Ten honorable mention in 2019 after he started all 14 games and led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, had just finished Wednesday’s practice and reiterated his joy about the announcement that the Big Ten would start the season the weekend of Oct. 23-24.
"It’s really exciting to be back with the guys and see everyone on the field," said Coan, who completed a school-record 236 passes for 2,727 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions in leading Wisconsin to a 10-4 record. "We have a lot of great players back, especially on the offensive line. I’m usually levelheaded, always working hard and taking advantage of each day. But it’s been a little stressful because we really didn’t know what the future would hold."
The decision to kick off the Big Ten football season came after the league’s presidents and chancellors unanimously voted to resume competition, citing daily testing capabilities and the latest medical information. The conference announced an eight-game season culminating in a Big Ten title game on Dec. 19. That schedule would put the Big Ten in line with Selection Day on Dec. 20 for the College Football Playoff.
"Jack is usually very quiet, hard to read, humble kind of guy," said former Sayville football coach Rob Hoss. "But the announcement that the Big Ten would play had him so fired up — really excited about the opportunity. We’ve been texting all day. To his credit, he’s been trying to stay prepared and ready for this possibility and that work ethic will serve him well. It’s not easy when you don’t know if you’re going to play."
When the season was postponed the 6-3, 220-pound signal caller was sent home on Aug. 16. He didn’t waste a moment staying prepared for a possible season.
"When they canceled the season, the coaches told the players to go home and stay there at least until classes start," Hoss said. "He got into town on a Thursday and was out training at 8 a.m. on a Friday at a local elementary school in August. Jack rotated in a training group with some of the area’s top quarterbacks in Jack Cheshire, Charlie McKee and Drew Guttieri. And these younger quarterbacks look up to him."
For Coan, the NCAA’s decision to call this a hold harmless year of eligibility, is huge.
"The year doesn’t count towards my eligibility, so I have two years of eligibility left and that’s really big," Coan said. "I’m treating every year like it’s my last one. And one of my dreams is to play in the NFL."
Four other prominent players from Long Island play in the Big Ten; Michigan quarterback Dan Villari (Plainedge), Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert (Lindenhurst), Northwestern offensive tackle Ethan Weiderkehr (Shoreham-Wading River and Maryland punter Anthony Pecorella (Chaminade).
The big-time quarterback, who set a number of passing records at Sayville, earned Big Ten honorable mention in 2019.