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Kevin Warren Was Always In a No-Win Situation

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This is exhausting.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament-Rutgers vs Michigan Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I realize that this entire pandemic has turned our brains into piles of gelatinous goop, so let me see if I understand this correctly:

  • Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren was loudly and ferociously criticized when he announced on Aug. 11 that the upcoming football season would be postponed. This declaration was made about four days after the conference revealed its revised league-only schedule. That announcement came following the Big Ten’s original announcement that all non-conference games would be canceled due to coronavirus-related travel and safety concerns (it isn’t safe for Illinois to play Illinois State or Iowa to play Northern Iowa, but going on a bus to play Rutgers in New Jersey is totally cool).
  • Various reports circulated that teams such as Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Nebraska were willing to defect from the Big Ten, realign, and join a single-season superconference in order to satiate players, coaches, and fans.
  • Parents of Iowa Hawkeye football players traveled to Chicago to picket outside league headquarters in order to convince Kevin Warren to pull a 180 and reinstate the college football season. (I can neither confirm nor deny any actual torches and pitchforks were used.) Iowa, by the way, is one of only two states that still don’t have any mandated mask requirements. Anyway...I’m sure this news is TOTALLY unrelated:

How about that? Iowa is finally the Alabama of the Big Ten, just like Hawkeye fans always wanted. Congrats!

  • An ESPN story from Aug. 26 reported that a group of Big Ten parent associations sent an open letter to Warren challenging his decision and calling for more “transparency” regarding it. More on that later.
  • Storied B1G program Nebraska has filed a lawsuit against the conference. Seriously?! Ne-fucking-braska? Spare me. PLEASE go rejoin the Big 12 so you can lose 56-10 to Oklahoma and reminisce about the halcyon days of 30 years ago when you actually mattered and we didn’t have to suffer through endless conversations and media chatter about whether or not you’re “back.”
  • And now, this...

Regardless of what you choose to believe, this situation is complicated. It has many layers. You may like Kevin Warren, you probably don’t. But look at all of the above events that have transpired in roughly the past MONTH. The same folks pissing and moaning about Kevin Warren caving to political pressure now expect him to cave to their pressure. Transparency is a myth. Those parents don’t want transparency — they want their way.

This entire ordeal is rife with contradictions and hypocrisy. Make no mistake about it, I understand these parents’ frustrations, even though I am not a parent myself. Their sons chose these schools primarily because of football — the “student” part has appeal for some, not most — and now football has been wrested away from them. But protesting the league office? Demanding Warren be fired? Accusing him of having an “agenda” while you yourself are virtue signaling?

And there are also hundreds of thousands of other students attending these colleges who don’t play football, so the feedback from those parents and those kids aren’t important? Mothers and fathers send their sons and daughters to college expecting those institutions to have students’ well-being in mind, to keep them safe. We can be upset about not having college football, but we should also commend these universities for trying to be schools first. But then as soon as we DO commend schools for being institutions of learning, it’s fair to also question why, if football is so dangerous, why it isn’t also dangerous for non-athletes to attend school and come in contact with other students on campus?

Scott Van Pelt hit it out of the park, as usual, during Friday night’s SportsCenter:

Let’s say the B1G does lift the restrictions and agrees to resume football, to stop “living in fear” in order to placate a throng of selfish fans and angry parents — what happens if there is another wave of coronavirus, like many medical experts are predicting, and more people get sick? Then the narrative shifts AGAIN. Instead of Kevin Warren being attacked for being “politically correct” he gets attacked for willingly putting players at risk for economic gain. It’s a lose-lose scenario any way you slice it. The to-and-fro is exhausting. As SVP postulated, Warren and the Big Ten might as well just stick to the original decision and be done with it. Move on.

NCAA Football: Redbox Bowl-California vs Illinois Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, there’s a built-in risk involved when playing football or any other sport. Players are willing to accept that physical risk while competing — they understand their careers could end due to injury at any time. But this is an invisible opponent that isn’t being vanquished anytime soon. I support players who want to take the field. I also support those who don’t. Both sides make compelling arguments.

Does the Big Ten have the health and safety of its players in mind? I’m sure they do. Was this decision politically-motivated? Likely so. Would the decision to reboot the season be financially motivated? No shit. Are we mostly mad because we miss football and this disrupts our Saturdays? Goddamn right. All answers can be true.

This whole process has been like a Keystone Cops routine, so we might as well laugh a bit, too.

Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol?