Day questions Big Ten, hints at mid-Oct. return

  • College football reporter
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2007
  • Graduate of Indiana University

  • College football reporter.
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
  • Graduate of Northwestern University.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day on Thursday issued a statement through the school that hinted at a possible return in mid-October, but also continued to question the communication from the Big Ten since its decision last month to postpone the season.

“While I understand the Big Ten Conference’s decision to postpone the football season because of health and safety considerations, the communication of information from the Big Ten following the decision has been disappointing and often unclear,” Day said in the prepared statement.

“However, we still have an opportunity to give our young men what they have worked so hard for: a chance to safely compete for a national championship this fall. I couldn’t possibly be prouder of how this team, our medical personnel, athletic director and president have stayed together and managed through this extremely difficult time with so many unanswered questions. The Big Ten medical subcommittee has done an excellent job of creating a safe pathway toward returning to play in mid-October.”

Day’s statement comes just days before the ACC officially begins its season on Saturday. The Big Ten announced Aug. 11 that it would postpone the fall sports season, including football, because of concerns around the coronavirus pandemic.

The league’s council of presidents/chancellors voted 11-3 to postpone, with only Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa electing to proceed with the fall season, sources told ESPN.

“These young men and their parents have asked so many questions that I do not have an answer to, but the one that hurts the most is, ‘Why can these other teams and players play and we can’t?'” Day said. “Duke is playing Notre Dame, and Clemson is playing Wake Forest this weekend. Our players want to know: Why can’t they play?”

Day wasn’t the only Big Ten coach to voice his frustrations on Thursday. Penn State coach James Franklin told Keshawn, JWill & Zubin on ESPN Radio that he didn’t have “an issue with the decision,” but it was the timing and the process that bothered him.

“The reality is we’re dependent on the Big Ten to drive this thing forward,” Franklin said. “It’s been challenging. It truly has. In terms of where we’re at, I’m not really sure, and that’s part of the problem.

“A big part of leadership is to be able to deliver answers to people’s questions, and also to be able to drive people toward a vision and drive people towards a plan. And right now, we don’t have those things. That’s been the issue. We just haven’t gotten great communication from the beginning. We’ve never really fully 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.”

On Tuesday, political leaders from six states sent a letter to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and league presidents and chancellors, urging the conference to reconsider its postponement. All 10 lawmakers who signed the letter are Republicans, and the six states they represent include seven Big Ten schools.

The Big Ten responded with a statement Wednesday saying the conference wants the same thing as the legislators — for “sports to continue safely” — and that they will continue to work “to identify opportunities to resume competition as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Sources have told ESPN the Big Ten’s return to competition task force is getting closer to presenting updated findings to the league’s presidents and chancellors, who could vote again on competition timelines as early as next week.

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