Penn State's James Franklin: Big Ten Should Play Fall CFB Season, Delay Start

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2020

Penn State head coach James Franklin leads his team onto the field for an NCAA college football game against Rutgers in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Barry Reeger/Associated Press

Penn State head coach James Franklin issued a statement calling for the Big Ten to "consider all possibilities to preserve college football this fall."

Franklin said he'd be willing to accept a delay to the start of the regular season to "seek clarity, build the safest environment for our guys & make the best decision!"

James Franklin @coachjfranklin

#WeAre https://t.co/dsZEGczZ84

His comments come as the fate of a fall football season looks to be in question amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Detroit Free Press Orion Sang, David Jesse, Chris Solari and Chris Thomas reported the Big Ten is planning to cancel the season with the potential for resuming football in the spring.

Franklin didn't go so far as some of his colleagues did to imply Penn State might consider playing for a different conference if the Big Ten took football off the table in 2020.

Husker Sports @HuskerSports

"Our University is committed to playing no matter what, no matter what that looks like and how that looks. We want to play no matter who it is or where it is." #Huskers HC Scott Frost on opponents for 2020. https://t.co/kTPN9znv0v

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Ohio State coach Ryan Day was just asked on ESPN about playing in another conference if the Big Ten shuts down: "We need to look at every option. And if that's the only option, we need to explore it and see if that's something we can do." 👀

The big question seems to be whether the NCAA and its member schools would be willing to jeopardize the long-term viability of the amateurism model by staging a 2020 college football season.

The Mid-American Conference and Mountain West both postponed sports through the fall, and they may not be the last to take that step.

The Power Five conferences have all altered their schedules to account for the pandemic, though, either eliminating nonconference games altogether or allowing their schools to stage games out of the conference.

By setting up designated bubbles, Power Five officials could closely monitor players and coaches while limiting their access to the outside world. While not ideal, multiple leagues in the United States have shown the approach can work to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

That would seemingly be an admission that college athletes are a special class relative to their peers, however, thus potentially opening the floodgates.

Seth Emerson @SethWEmerson

What changed in the last few days? The virus situation didn't. The presidents and powers-that-be can talk all they want about health and safety. But more likely they don't want to disrupt their model by admitting amateurism is a sham and putting their players in bubbles.

Fans want to see football, and at least some players want to play as long as administrators put the necessary health and safety protocols into place.

The ball appears to be in the court of conference power brokers.