Big Ten Football Turn-Around

September 20th, 2020

Meticulously penned by Bill Kratzer

Who’s ready for some Penn State football?

THIS guy is!

In a surprising decision earlier this week, the Big Ten schools reversed course and decided it was okay to play a shortened season. With daily testing, no fans, and strict guidelines for playing, the Big Ten feels they have a solution to make players, coaches, families, and fans happy while still generating a shitload of money with some fascinating matchups.

I’m both excited and highly skeptical. On one hand, I love Penn State football, and the 2020 team (even without Micah Parsons) may be one of Franklin’s best teams on paper. On the other hand, I’m not convinced at this time that any team will play more than three or four games. Programs like Virginia Tech, LSU, and Baylor are showing how hard it is to field teams during a pandemic. State College is the second-fastest growing town in the United States with positive COVID cases, with 50+ Nittany Lion athletes testing positive this week.

We have a LONG way to go before we can demonstrate the ability to play football under the strict Big Ten guidelines.

The Big Ten 2020 football season has generated a lot of questions from me, too. How will you decide a division champion between a 5-1 team that maybe only missed two games and a 4-0 team that is undefeated and missed more games? Will the Big Ten truly be able to participate in the college football playoffs by playing an abbreviated season and not ending until December 19th? How does the CFB playoff committee even rank Big Ten teams that start playing at the end of October?

Personnel-wise, Penn State has a lot of interesting dynamics. There are a bunch of new coaches, several transfer portal enthusiasts, a handful of graduations and NFL departures, and at least one early departure to the NFL. How many student athletes decide to sit this season out is also unclear. During Thursday’s Zoom call, Franklin did seem to indicate that between quarantined players and sit-outs, there might be a need to play deep on the depth chart.

Schedule-wise, Penn State has a very good one. Cross-conference play with Iowa and Nebraska gets a huge thumbs up from me. Playing Ohio State on week two on Halloween is probably the best week you’d like to play the Buckeyes; you get to work out the rust in week one, and then you just run the fucking ball down the throat of the Buckeyes in week two. The rest of the schedule seems very manageable.

I wonder what elements of college football Penn State may try to bring to televised games? After watching a few NFL games, I do like the simulated crowd noise. Will we see simulated band noise and tunes? Will we hear Zombie Nation play in the stadium after a turnover? Will Beaver Stadium seats be covered white for the Halloween bout with Ohio State? Will the Blue Band make one live appearance this season? Maybe even see some fireworks during what is sure to be a nigh-time matchup on Halloween? I think there are lot of fun things that could happen. Let’s hope the Big Ten shows the rest of the sports world how to do this right!

It’s only five short weeks until Penn State football. In the meantime, it’s time for me to revisit all those coaching changes, position changes, a new faces taking the field in 2020.

The 2020 season may be like no other.