President Donald Trump is injecting himself into the college football season… at least, in one area of the country. For days, he has been calling for the restoration of Big Ten football season.
Earlier today, he announced that he spoke to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren about playing this fall. Last month, the Big Ten announced that football was off for the fall, after a decision by a strong majority of the league’s presidents and chancellors. That may be changing.
Hours after Trump offered federal resources to get things back off the ground for this fall, Dan Patrick is reporting that the league could reverse course and start up in early October “if conference can pass updated safety measures and procedures.” The longtime radio host’s show tweeted as much moments ago.
The Big Ten was the first Power Five league to cancel fall football, but it was quickly followed by the Pac-12. The West Coast league hasn’t had nearly the same push from players, parents, and other interested parties to get things back on the schedule for this fall. Apparently, Trump didn’t find it necessary to give commissioner Larry Scott a ring either.
#Pac12 had not heard from the White House, as of 20 minutes ago.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) September 1, 2020
It isn’t hard to see the difference between the two leagues, for the president who is up for reelection in two months. In the Big Ten, football-crazed Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and even part of Nebraska are expected to be pretty competitive states that can swing the election. Per current aggregate forecasts, Iowa is the only state he has a real edge in right now.
Out West, Arizona is the only real toss-up state, and it isn’t nearly as die-hard for the Wildcats and Sun Devils as the Big Ten states are for their flagship schools.
Donald Trump is betting that those who will often say they don’t want politics in their sports, when it comes to protests in the NBA and NFL, will celebrate his involvement when it comes to college football, and even potentially tilt things back in his direction. If things wind up being as close as they were in 2016, every little factor can play a big role here.
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