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James Franklin Reacts To Big Ten's Fall Football Decision

A closeup of Penn State football coach James Franklin during a Big Ten game.

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on after the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Beaver Stadium on November 10, 2018 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Penn State football coach James Franklin says he understood why the Big Ten elected to cancel fall football, pushing things to the spring if there is a 2020-21 season at all. The communication with teams and players, however, left something to be desired.

Last week, the school's presidents decided to push the season amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns. The decision came just days after the Big Ten rolled out its new conference-only schedules for every team. While it wasn't particularly surprising that a league felt it had to cancel football for the fall, the timing of the decision was called into question by many. Nothing had really changed on the virus front, and it was reached without discussion with players and others involved in the season.

“The announcement to postpone football was extremely disappointing,” Franklin said in a statement made to the Penn State football media today. "Witnessing the confusion on our guys’ faces when I shared the news of the postponement last week was gut wrenching. It is my responsibility to help our guys chase their dreams and delivering this news felt like I was doing the opposite, it felt like I was taking away their dream to play at Penn State, even if for some, it is only temporary."

"We, as a coaching staff & administration, fought as hard as we could to fulfill the desires of our student-athletes & their parents to play this fall. While I appreciate the complexities & difficulties of this decision for the leaders of our conference; I am extremely frustrated because we still have very few answers to communicate to our young men & their families about their futures very little understand of the factors contributing to the decision."

The statement is pretty direct in its criticism of those who led to this decision, without naming people like Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren. He also mentions that the Nittany Lions are turning their "attention to the potential of a winter season." This backs up Ohio State coach Ryan Day's call for the league to start things early in the spring semester.

Franklin addressed the parent-led calls for the Big Ten to reconsider, something that has been driven by those at Ohio State and Iowa. Nebraska and Penn State football have also been pretty active in making it clear that they'd like to play this fall.

Ultimately, Franklin doesn't see the powers that be changing their minds on this.

There have been some indications that the Big Ten could fold under pressure and reschedule a fall season in some form, most of which have come from those around the Ohio State program. It is hard to know if that is just some positive thinking, or if the Big Ten is actually considering a change in stance, though James Franklin has indicated that his mind is now on January.


James Franklin's (@coachjfranklin) opening statement from today's press conference:

— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) August 19, 2020

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