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Big Ten football parents to gather Friday outside conference HQ in ‘peaceful show of force’

TEDDY GREENSTEIN
Chicago Tribune (TNS)
Big Ten

CHICAGO – First came the open letters, which the Big Ten ignored.

Then Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields launched a #WeWantToPlay petition, which has garnered more than 270,000 e-signatures. And Big Ten officials didn’t respond to that either.

The next step is a bit more, well, in-your-face.

Randy Wade, the father of Ohio State star cornerback Shaun Wade, is organizing a rally outside Big Ten headquarters. He is calling the gathering a “peaceful show of force” and hopes for a big turnout at 8 a.m. Friday in Rosemont, Ill.

“This is not an Ohio State thing,” Wade said. “This a Big Ten thing. Come on out wearing the jersey of your favorite team. Mask up and be respectful.”

Wade is not your typical football dad. He hosts a podcast called “Daddy’s Ball” that examines issues such as recruiting, transitioning from home life to campus and signing with an agent. He has interviewed the fathers of Jalen Ramsey and Micah Parsons.

“We try to help people make better decisions,” he said.

And now he’s hoping Big Ten officials will reverse course – and join the Big 12, SEC and ACC in attempting to play fall football.

Asked if he thinks there’s a possibility the Big Ten would flip and give football a shot, Wade replied: “When people come together in unity, things can happen.”

Parents of players at Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State, Nebraska are miffed that the Big Ten pulled the plug without a concrete explanation from Commissioner Kevin Warren. And they’re frustrated by the league’s lack of transparency – was there even a vote? – and Warren’s continued silence.

Doug Ramsey, the father of Northwestern quarterback Peyton Ramsey, wondered why it was deemed safe to play high school football in Ohio, but not college football.

Iowa parents, some of whom are expected to appear Friday, blistered the league by writing: “The Big Ten’s lack of communication and leadership is offensive.”

Phil Spiewak, father of long-snapper Austin Spiewak, said the goal of sending the letter late last week was to “rattle the cage.”

If the cage has been rattled, no feathers are showing.

Big Ten officials continue to decline comment. They also would not say whether league headquarters would be open Friday or if Warren has been working from there or his downtown Chicago apartment.

“I’m super nervous,” Wade said, “because when you’re the one to light that match, what if you don’t get the support?”

Wade is aware of the critics who deem him a helicopter parent and contend the players should fight their own battle.

“The thing they don’t understand is, these kids start playing football or any sport at a very young age,” he said. “It’s the parents and the kids who get them in the position they are in. A lot of people want kids to stand on their own but as soon as they have talent, everyone is trying to influence them. They need help from someone who has been on the planet longer than they have.”