As Big Ten coaches and athletic directors discuss the idea of the conference starting its 2020 football season in late November, President Donald Trump would like football back even sooner than that.
Trump tweeted Friday that he wanted the Big Ten and other conferences that postponed their seasons to play “now.” The tweet came after Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel and others had reported on the early-stage conversations among Big Ten athletic departments about getting the football season started before 2021 begins.
While the Big Ten was the only conference Trump named specifically in his tweet, it’s one of four conferences at the top level of college football with a postponed fall sports season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference and the Pac-12 have also postponed their fall sports seasons.
None of those decisions had anything to do with outward influence from the Democratic Party and there has been no effort by the party to push other schools and conferences into not playing football this fall.
It’s also unclear as to the specific states Trump is referencing when he referred to “shutdown states” in his tweet. The Big Ten’s footprint includes the pivotal Electoral College states of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Trump won all three of those states in the 2016 election.
It’s important to note that university presidents made the decision to postpone the season along with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren. The decision to postpone the season earlier this month was met with public pushback from players and coaches. Players at Nebraska even went so far as to file a lawsuit against the conference this week.
That pushback also included Trump at the time. As the Big Ten, Pac-12 and others postponed their seasons, Trump and his campaign started using the #WeWantToPlay hashtag started by college players across the country.
College football games have been reliably friendly territory for Trump, as he’s attended two of the last three national championships. He also attended LSU’s win over Alabama and has gone to multiple Army-Navy games during his presidential tenure.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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