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James Franklin ‘Confident, Hopeful’ For 2020 College Football Season

Penn State football head coach James Franklin once again met with the media via Zoom on Wednesday afternoon. After wishing good health to all supporters of Penn State Athletics and everyone around the country, much of Franklin’s discussion revolved around the future of the 2020 college football season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Franklin first explained that he’s no longer in Colorado and is back in Happy Valley with his family, but the rest of his coaching staff and players are still spread around the country. With that in mind, the head coach discussed how he sees the prospect of a 2020 college football season starting on time.

“It’s all about the welfare of our students and fans, and that’s what makes this issue so complicated,” Franklin said. “I’m a believer in science, in medicine, and in listening to the experts. Our decisions have to be based on that number one. What are the experts saying? What can we do to create the best, safest, healthiest environment we possibly can?”

Franklin added that, while the obvious priority is the health of everyone involved, there is also a financial factor in deciding if or in what form college football will return this fall.

“I know how important football is not just to our program but to this university and to the community, businesses, and all the people of Pennsylvania,” Franklin said. “I’m confident that we’re going to find a way to make this thing work, but never at the expense of health and student welfare.”

As we enter May and the scheduled start of the season comes closer, the idea of a contingency plan continues to be a hot topic of discussion. When he met with the media over Zoom this past March, Franklin mentioned that he, athletic director Sandy Barbour, and several members of his staff were in discussions of what a possible plan would look like.

On Wednesday, the head coach noted that many college football players are use to spending an extended amount of time on campus in order to fully prepare for the upcoming season. During his playing days, though, many teams only had their players training for a few weeks in the summer. He’s confident that his team could make a transition to a plan similar to that.

“People forget that when I played college football you weren’t there all summer — you were home, working out on your own,” Franklin said. “You’d show up and be in training camp for three weeks or a month before the season started, and you went and played.”

“I think you definitely can do it under six weeks. I think you can do it in a month,” Franklin added.

Franklin went on to say that everyone involved is going to need to be willing to change and be flexible with some serious transitions.

While he does believe his players can be ready in roughly a month, another issue factoring in is the fact that different state-by-state reopenings will change which programs can get back on the field first. Franklin understands some may want the NCAA to try and “level the playing field” with overall restrictions, but he doesn’t see that as a real possibility.

Different practice and training start dates for different programs is just another topic the head coach feels college football as a whole will need to adjust to.

Clearly there’s plenty of what-if scenarios involved in what will happen to the upcoming college football season. Delayed starts, fewer games, playing without fans, and even spring seasons have all been mentioned as possible solutions.

For now, like many others, Franklin is willing to do just about anything to make some sort of season happen.

“For me, I’m just open and flexible to doing whatever we possibly can to make it work,” Franklin said. “If we don’t make it work, there’s going to be major impacts across the board.”

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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