NCAA Football: Penn State Coach Says Conferences Should Play Even If All Schools Can’t

Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions runs onto the field with his team before taking on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Stadium.
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A lot remains unknown about the 2020 NCAA football season, but some feel that teams should be able to play even if an entire conference cannot. Penn State head coach James Franklin believes that teams representing schools that have been cleared to reopen after the coronavirus pandemic should not be penalized, even if a few other squads are not yet ready to get back on the field.

As states around the country are restarting operations at different times based on medical experts, this could come to affect fall sports. Some universities may not be allowed to resume sessions on time, therefore hindering the ability of sports teams to be ready for their new seasons.

ESPN is reporting that Franklin doesn’t think schools should suffer if they’re allowed to open but others are not. In his opinion, if a majority of a conference can return to football operations, play should resume with those schools that are ready.

“I can’t imagine that right now we’re all going to open at the same time. 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% or 75% of the schools because 25% of them can’t open.”

The NCAA does not currently have a set of guidelines precisely stating what it is going to do about schools reopening, and Franklin feels this could hurt football conferences. If a conference has multiple teams ranked in the Top 25, but they’re not allowed to resume play, the entire conference would end up suffering.

Joe Burrow #9 of the LSU Tigers runs the ball against the Clemson Tigers during the College Football Playoff National Championship game at Mercedes Benz Superdome.
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Most college campuses have been closed since mid-March, and there has been no word on when they may reopen. Forbes is reporting that colleges reopening this fall could create a dangerous situation if the “inevitable” second coronavirus wave ends up happening as predicted.

There are not a lot of concrete plans for sports to resume around the world, as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are still altering regular operations. The NBA is still weighing options available to it during its current season, while the NFL has stated it will release its 17-game schedule this week.

Franklin knows that “in a perfect world, everybody opens at the same time,” but that isn’t going to happen. The possibility remains that college football and other sports may not end up happening at all depending on the world’s situation when September rolls around.