P.J. Fleck and the rest of his Minnesota Golden Gophers team understand and agree with the Big Ten Conference’s decision to shut down fall sports, at least for now. Megan Ryan of the Star Tribune wrote on Friday that the head coach has been polling his players after it was announced the football season would be postponed until at least the spring. Fleck said that so far, all the members of his team that he has talked to have said they are fine with the decision.
“Every player has said the Big Ten made the right decision,” Fleck said in a video news conference. “Were they disappointed that they didn’t play? Sure, everybody wants to play.”
He added that Golden Gophers players felt postponement was the right call in order to keep them healthy.
Gophers quarterback Seth Green told the media he agreed with Fleck. He said that his teammates were all very excited for the fall and wanted to get to work, but understood why the conference made the call that it did.
He also said he understood the rationale behind canceling or postponing was about health and safety, and he said there were plenty of people in his locker room who believed the only way to achieve that was not having any games until the spring at least.
Fleck said he’s going to get through this situation by using communication with the student-athletes under his charge. He said that was especially key considering how fast things are changing.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Big Ten released a revamped schedule. When it released that plan, there were many who thought it meant “full steam ahead” for football. Then the fall cancellation came.
Fleck hasn’t said for certain whether he is in favor of a spring schedule at this point. In April, he had made comments that he thought trying to go ahead with two full seasons in one calendar year would be too taxing on the team.
Fleck and his squad’s reaction to the announcement stand out compared to how other programs like Nebraska and Ohio State have dealt with the news. Directly after the Big Ten made the announcement, Scott Frost and the Nebraska athletic department talked about finding a way to play anyway. Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day made similar comments earlier this week.
Both schools have since said they will go along with the postponement and wait to see what happens in 2020.