PSU's James Franklin Expects 'Way Inconsistent' Return Dates for Power 5 Teams

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2020

Penn State head coach James Franklin calls a play as Penn State plays Memphis in the first half of the NCAA Cotton Bowl college football game, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Penn State head football coach James Franklin told reporters Wednesday that he believes conferences should allow teams in open states to move forward with the 2020 football season, even if certain member schools are prohibited by coronavirus restrictions. 

"I can't imagine that right now we're all going to open at the same time," Franklin said, per Heather Dinich of ESPN. "If the SEC, for example, opens up a month earlier than the Big Ten, and the Big Ten is able to open up and 12 of the 14 schools, if two schools can't open, I don't see a conference—any conference—penalizing 80 percent or 75 percent of the schools because 25 percent of them can't open.

"To me, unless there's a level playing field and the NCAA comes out and says that no one's opening before this date to try to help with that, what you really end up doing is you end up hurting the conference. Say two or three of the schools in our conference that are ranked in the top 10 have the ability to open and a couple schools don't, and you make the decision to hold the entire conference back, you're hurting the conference as a whole in terms of your ability to compete."

Rutgers, which is located in New Jersey, appears the most unlikely Big Ten school to be able to be fully open by fall. Camden, New Jersey, where Rutgers is located, has more than 4,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and is only 10 minutes outside of Philadelphia—one of the hardest-hit cities outside of New York state. 

Any speculation about when and if college football can return in the fall is premature. A vast majority of college campuses nationwide have been closed to quell the pandemic, and conference commissioners told Vice President Mike Pence that sports will not return until it's safe for students to be on campus.

Given that there are tens of thousands of students on many campuses across the country, the idea of a return may be more difficult for college sports than most professional outlets. We are likely months away from people being allowed to congregate in such large groups again, and that assumes there are no setbacks or second spike.

Franklin, who noted he anticipates a "way inconsistent" return, said it would be helpful if the NCAA enacted guidelines for every school to follow.

"That could at least help with it a little bit," Franklin said. "In a perfect world, everybody opens at the same time. I just don't see any way that [will] be possible. Are you going to not have college football this year or sports in general because two states in the country won't open? I don't see that happening."