The lead-up to the 2020 college football season was a tumultuous time all across the sport, but particularly in the Big Ten as the conference led by commissioner Kevin Warren initially elected to cancel athletics due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately reversing course and holding a shortened football season beginning in October.
While the Big Ten ultimately did hold some semblance of a football season after all, it was not easy getting to that point. The conference dealt with pushback and protests from parents as well as an online petition from star Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields calling for the season to be reinstated. As it turns out, there was also some discontent among the conference’s coaches and athletic directors – particularly directed towards the Big Ten commissioner.
According to a report from Sportico, the Big Ten athletic directors mocked Warren behind his back during separate conversations and seriously considered taking a vote of no-confidence against him, even before the season was canceled. While such a vote would not have been binding, it’s clear that he lacked respect from the conference’s leadership.
As a sign of the growing disconnect, the Big Ten ADs and football coaches began hosting separate calls without the conference staff, which not infrequently turned into Warren gripe sessions. Although it wouldn’t have been binding, the idea of the ADs taking a no-confidence vote on Warren was seriously broached, according to multiple sources. As a more impish reaction, Moos says he and some of his cohorts resorted to a game of tallying up the number of times Warren would use the same corporate buzz phrases over Zoom, such as “optics” and “pivot.”
Ultimately, Warren did help navigate the conference through the pandemic season that saw a Big Ten team make the College Football Playoff championship game, where the Buckeyes were defeated by the Alabama Crimson Tide. He’s also successfully led the conference in its expansion efforts, adding USC and UCLA. But the leadup to the 2020 season was certainly shaky.