After much research and testing (and offline assistance from Greg Zelfond [SP Maven]), my IT dept and I figured out that the inability to customize anything was due to some loss/corruption of our access rights during the migration to GCC on this specific Site Collection. Even after trying to reset our access (both IT and myself as a SC admin), nothing worked ...
I went through multiple steps to solve this issue.
First I checked permissions to see if I was having an error with the group permissions.
I removed my permissions from the group then re added them (No change)
I added myself with full control outside of the group (no change)
I removed older versions of the managment counsel and pnp and made sure mine was ...
The template is trying to find federateddirectoryclaimprovider user for applying permissions to it, but is not able to find this user in Site. To avoid this you can execute the Apply-PnPProvisioningTemplate command with -ExcludeHandlers SiteSecurity switch by doing so it will not apply permissions to users aganist any SharePoint groups being created.