It's been just over a week since the Big Ten canceled fall football in 2020 and the airing of grievances from athletic directors, coaches, players, and even their parents hasn't stopped. The lasting fallout of the Big Ten's monumental decision out of COVID-19 concerns seems to be less about the actual decision itself and more about the lack of transparency in the process.
The latest to voice his frustration over this is Penn State coach James Franklin. Meeting with reporters virtually, Franklin lamented the inability of the Big Ten to adequately communicate not only why it came to the decision it did -- said decision came less than a week after releasing the 2020 schedule -- but how it affects players this year and beyond.
"I am extremely frustrated because we still have very few answers to communicate to our young men and their families about their futures and very little understand of the factors contributing to the decision," Franklin said.
Student-athlete eligibility is, and will continue to be, a major topic as some conferences and schools postpone football for the spring while others play in the fall. The NCAA council could have an answer finalized by Aug. 21. In the meantime, there are a lot of people, Franklin included, demanding to know what changed for the conference in opting out of the fall.
"It was working ... then all [of a] sudden it changes and you weren't a part of the conversation and you didn't understand why," Franklin said. "The amount of communication we have had before and after has been pretty good, but when the decision was actually being made, the decision caught a lot of people off guard. The decision came before everybody being on board and understanding it."
Franklin's points echo those of Big Ten admins, who just this week didn't seem clear at all about exactly how the vote went down to proceed, or not proceed, with a season. To be clear, Franklin understood the difficult decision to not play football in the fall, even calling for the decision itself to be praised, but the inability for the conference to deliver a clear, concise and unified message has been a rare fumble for one of the most powerful conferences in college athletics.
The likelihood of the Big Ten reversing course is slim, even with all of the PR hits it has taken over the past week. Though the Big Ten has mishandled its communication, a decision of this magnitude would undergo even more scrutiny if it were to be reversed. Ultimately, the league probably didn't have to make a decision when it did, which could have left more options on the table such as a winter season, as Franklin proposed.
Still, what's done is done and it would likely take a major medical breakthrough for the Big Ten to play football sooner rather than later.