Did a presidential Hail Mary put a fall Big Ten football season back in play?
President Trump is sending that signal after a Tuesday conversation with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren.
The President indicated via his Twitter account that he and Warren “had a very productive conversation” and implied that an immediate start to the season is on the table.
Had a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, about immediately starting up Big Ten football. Would be good (great!) for everyone – Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2020
The President’s use of the football metaphor “on the one yard line” is a clear signal that he believes his conversation with Warren moved the needle.
The President amplified his remarks in a brief meeting with reporters before a flight to Wisconsin.
“I think it was very productive about getting Big Ten playing again, immediately,” Trump said. “Let’s see what happens. (Kevin Warren is) a great guy, it’s a great conference. Tremendous teams. We’re pushing very hard.”
In a league statement reported by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, the Big Ten agreed that the conversation was productive.
But the league did not go so far as to suggest that a return to the field was imminent.
“A White House representative reached out to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren on Monday to facilitate a phone call between President Donald Trump and Commissioner Warren. On Tuesday, Commissioner Warren and the President had a productive conversation, the league said in a release following the conversation.
“The B1G and its Return to Competition Task Force, on behalf of the B1G Council of Presidents & Chancellors (COP/C), are exhausting every resource to help student-athletes get back to playing the sports they love, at the appropriate time, in the safest and healthiest way possible.”
The Big Ten decided to postpone fall sports on August 11. In an open letter just over a week later, Warren indicated that the decision would not be revisited.
High school football has resumed in several states around the country. One college football game was played last weekend, and three of the FBS power five conferences are set to kick off action later this month. The PAC-12 Conference followed the Big Ten’s decision to postpone.
The Big Ten is considering several alternative schedules to start the football season, including around Thanksgiving, early January, and late January.
Several league coaches, including Indiana’s Tom Allen, have indicated that it should be a priority to not disrupt the integrity of the 2021 season. Along those lines, the earlier the season can be started, the better from a purely football perspective.
Just how early remains a moving target, and today’s conversation between the President and Warren introduces yet another variable in the evolving drama.
Is the resumption of play really at the 1-yard line? Probably not. Rather, fall Big Ten football still feels like it is backed up in its own end zone looking to punt.
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