PSU's James Franklin Frustrated with Big Ten's Communication Amid Pandemic

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2020

Penn State head coach James Franklin talks with reporters following an NCAA college football game against Idaho in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Barry Reeger/Associated Press

Penn State head coach James Franklin expressed his frustration with the Big Ten's lack of communication amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

During an appearance on ESPN Radio's Keyshawn, Zubin and JWill (h/t Sam Marsdale of 247Sports), Franklin spoke about the "challenge" of trying to answer questions for players and families when the conference isn't providing information:

"I think the big challenge as the head football coach is that your players and your parents think that you have all the answers to what's going on, but the reality is, we're dependent on the Big Ten to drive this thing forward. It's been challenging. It truly has. In terms of where we're at, I'm not really sure. I think that's part of the problem. To me, I've said this from the beginning, I don't necessarily have an issue with the decision. I got an issue with the process, and I got an issue with the timing. To be able to stand up in front of your team and parents and tell them that the season is canceled/postponed, but not have any answers as to how that affects their future and when we will be playing football and still haven't a month later. That's the hard part. It's been really, really challenging. I think a big part of leadership is to be able to deliver answers to people's questions and also to be able to drive people towards a vision and drive people towards a plan. Right now, we don't have those things." 

Since the Big Ten announced on Aug. 11 all fall sports would be postponed because of the pandemic, several teams and football coaches have spoken out against the decision. 

Franklin has been consistent in saying his issue has nothing to do with the postponement, but the lack of response from conference leaders. 

"I don't necessarily have an issue with the decision, but I have an issue with the process and I've got an issue with the timing," he told reporters on Aug. 19. "It was challenging to keep getting up in front of my team and getting up in front of my parents and not having answers to their questions."

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren issued an open letter to the Big Ten community to provide some insight on the decision: "The vote by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) was overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited."

Warren also highlighted six primary factors as the reasons, including the "alarming rate" of transmission for the virus; concerns around contact tracing; and uncertainty about recovery and long-term ramifications of contracting the virus. 

There has been speculation the Big Ten would reconsider its stance regarding football, with ESPN's Adam Rittenberg noting this week that lawmakers from six states sent a letter to Warren asking to reconsider, but Warren's letter said the decision "will not be revisited."