Nearly three weeks since the Big Ten announced it was postponing its fall sports seasons, Ohio State football players and their parents still haven’t had an opportunity to communicate directly with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren or any conference officials about the decision that was made and what will happen next.
Despite repeated requests for more transparency from players, coaches and parents throughout the conference – including letters from the Football Parents at Ohio State and groups of football players from other Big Ten teams that demanded a response from the commissioner – the only correspondence they’ve received from the Big Ten is the open letter Warren shared via the conference’s website on Aug. 19.
Even so, Gee Scott Sr. said he still believes Warren will eventually take the time to meet with players and their parents, explain the conference’s decision and answer their questions.
“Kevin Warren, I believe at some point you’re going to talk to us,” said Scott, the father of Ohio State wide receiver Gee Scott Jr., after the rally Ohio State parents held outside Ohio Stadium on Saturday. “Because I believe as a father, the same way you and your family had the opportunity to make the decision for your son to play football, I believe that maybe you will give us parents that right to have a conversation for our children to play football. So yes, Kevin Warren, Big Ten, I’m encouraged. And I believe at some point they will talk to us.”
Amanda Babb, the stepmother of wide receiver Kamryn Babb and the president of Football Parents at Ohio State, believes the pressure that parent groups throughout the conference have put on the Big Ten has “been at least some sort of successful in at least getting them to start talking about the plan moving forward.”
While it still remains unclear what exactly the conference’s plans are for its postponed football season, there has been increasing momentum toward starting the season in either November or January, and while that’s far from an ideal solution – Babb, like most of the Buckeye parents who spoke at Saturday’s rally, believes the season should start no later than October so Ohio State has a chance to compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff – it’s at least an indicator that the Big Ten is having conversations and trying to come up with answers to the questions being asked.
“Really, when they canceled, there wasn’t a plan at all. We didn’t know if it was April, we didn’t know if it was March, January,” Babb said. “So I’m hoping that by keeping some of the pressure upon the Big Ten that it is encouraging them to come up with a solution. Because we’re not gonna stop. We’re gonna keep fighting until we get answers.”
Scott, though, is sick of hearing about potential answers through rumors and media reports. He wants to hear answers directly from the Big Ten itself.
“I want a decision, and I want the commissioner, the same person that yanked the season away, that yanked the goalposts away, I want that to be the person that comes out and brings it out,” Scott said. “I don’t want any more speculation, I don’t want what people are hearing, what they’re saying. I want to hear directly from the commissioner Kevin Warren. Simple.”
“I’m hoping that by keeping some of the pressure upon the Big Ten that it is encouraging them to come up with a solution. Because we’re not gonna stop. We’re gonna keep fighting until we get answers.”– Amanda Babb, president of Football Parents at Ohio State
One reason the Big Ten could be compelled to provide more answers soon is the lawsuit filed Thursday by eight Nebraska football players against the conference. The Big Ten has been given until 5 p.m. Monday to file a written brief in response to the players’ lawsuit, which is seeking a reversal of the decision to postpone the fall season and details on how the decision was made, and while the conference responded in an initial statement that the lawsuit “has no merit,” the lawsuit is seeking expedited discovery which could force the conference to provide answers how the vote to postpone the season went and what information they used to make that decision.
As of Monday morning, no other players from Big Ten schools had followed the Nebraska players’ lead, but Babb said she had heard some conversations among parents – though it hasn’t been discussed directly by the FPAOS board – about whether that’s something Ohio State players or parents should do, as well.
Right now, she’s looking forward to seeing what emerges from the lawsuit filed by the Cornhuskers.
“We’re pretty hopeful,” Babb said. “We’re anxiously awaiting to see what happens from Nebraska’s side.”
Scott said he thinks “Nebraska and their fans are out here doing the Lord’s work.”
“I thought about wearing a Nebraska hat,” Scott said. “It’s a beautiful thing when you have conferences that work together … in the Big Ten, I’m not really sure anymore who’s making these decisions. So what Nebraska’s doing is a beautiful thing, and thank you, and I’m encouraged.”
When exactly the Big Ten will start to provide some specific answers about its plan for its postponed football season remains unclear, but if the past three weeks have been any indication, those who have been affected by the decision are unlikely to stop speaking out until they get those answers.
“We want to know what the criteria and what the methodology is you’re using to make those play or no-play decisions,” Kyle Borland, the father of Ohio State linebacker Tuf Borland, said during Saturday’s rally. “That way our kids don’t have the rug pulled out from underneath their feet.”