Yesterday's installment of As the Big Ten Turns brought to light the fact that Friday will be a month since the conference postponed its football season, and in that time nothing has been accomplished.
But don't take my word for it. Read what James Franklin had to say earlier today on ESPN Radio.
“It’s been challenging, as you guys know,” Franklin said (via 247Sports). “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.”
Let's break some choice quotes down, bit by bit, shall we?
"In terms of where we're at, I'm not really sure."
Again, it's been a month (minus one day) since the decision was announced, and the head coach at Penn State isn't sure where the conference stands.
"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."
This has been the (somewhat) universal take since the Aug. 11 decision. History will ultimately decide whether the Big Ten's decision was the right one, but it was obvious back on Aug. 11 that the process leading to that decision, and the process explaining that decision, was a complete debacle.
-- Why did the Big Ten decide to start on Sept. 5 in the first place?
-- Why didn't Kevin Warren have any answers in his BTN interview immediately after the postponement was announced? Where have the Big Ten presidents been? Why couldn't anyone in the conference even agree if a vote was even taken for days on end?
-- Why didn't the Big Ten try pausing and pushing everything back a month? Why was the season framed as "We begin on Sept. 5 or we don't begin at all"?
-- Why weren't ADs and coaches included in calls with presidents and medical experts -- if nothing else, so the folks in charge of implementing the presidents' decision could understand why it was made and then explain that rationale to understandably frustrated players and parents?
As we'll see, that's been Franklin's biggest frustration, a feeling shared by his peers.
"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."
The Big Ten told its teams that they weren't playing this fall. That was Step 1. There was no Step 2, and a month later there still is no Step 2.
"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.”
The process leading to the postponement was a failure of leadership of seismic proportions, dating back to July, when the Big Ten announced it was going conference-only without notifying anyone else. That failure doubled when the Big Ten clearly started floating the idea it was going to postpone its fall season on Saturday, Aug. 8, the moment after the MAC became the first FBS league to pull the rip cord. Commissioner Kevin Warren is far from blameless, but the failure rests with the Big Ten presidents.
That failure of communication, by the way, doesn't just exist at Penn State.
Franklin summarized it all here:
“We just haven’t gotten great communication from the beginning. We’ve never really been told or understood why the season was shut down in the first place, and there hasn’t been a whole lot of communication since. When I say communication, we’ve had meetings, but I’m talking about really understanding ‘why’ and ‘what’ and ‘how we got here.’”