The last-minute support to save a college football season came from players to coaches, from a U.S. Senator to President Donald Trump.
Penn State head coach James Franklin and others took to social media Monday to push back against rumors and reports of the 2020 season being canceled by safety concerns over COVID-19.
He wants to fight for the season.
Penn State football parents’ association released a statement supporting their sons’ desire to play and many of the Nittany Lions took to social media to urge their cases, as well, about safely playing amid a virus pandemic.
Quarterback Sean Clifford’s message on Twitter: “I feel safer playing football than being home!! Never wanted to play football more than now! #IWantToPlay”
While the SEC and its leaders proclaimed a patient wait-and-see approach Monday, holding fast to their season beginning at the end of September, the Big Ten has seemed to sway back and forth over the viability of a season.
League officials, including new president Kevin Warren, went from releasing a revised schedule last Wednesday, to opening training camps on Friday to pulling back on practice protocols over the weekend.
Reports swirled Monday about an official cancellation of fall football and other sports for the Big Ten and Pac-12.
Now comes tough answers for athletes and coaches who have been working in controlled atmospheres and mostly empty campuses with hope of a season that probably will not happen. College football had been played every season for the past 150 years, even during world wars and the flu pandemic of 1918.
Where do they head now?
It’s uncertain whether university presidents, athletic directors and league leaders will strongly consider some sort of season for the spring of 2021, in part, to help mitigate a revenue disaster.
Not playing football at all in the 2020-21 fiscal year could cost Power 5 conference schools more than $4 billion in total football revenues and at least $1.2 billion to lost ticket revenue, according to one report.
Then there’s the effects on local economies, such as State College. The mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for example, told reporters that his city would lose up to $2 billion if the University of Alabama’s football season is canceled.
Meanwhile, players’-rights movements have appeared and figure to change the college sports landscape, at least in the longer term. Some of the game’s most prominent figures came together to focus their message (#WeWantToPlay) with increased safety protocols and decision making powers.
Dianne Freiermuth, the mother of Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth, had this to say in a message from the parents’ association: “Our sons are regularly tested and contact tracing protocols have been developed to ensure player safety as well as parent confidence. A small number of athletes have been quarantined and isolated as an appropriate response to a positive test result. I truly believe that these young men are being cared for both physically and mentally in a manner that could not be replicated in their own homes.”
Multiple figures pushed to try and save the season in the final moments, from Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, to the biggest names on the field like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence to a U.S. senator.
Even President Donald Trump chimed in, tweeting “The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay.”