It’s been twenty-three days. Twenty-three days as of Sept. 3, since the shocking announcement that the PAC-12 and Big Ten athletic conferences would both not be holding their college football seasons this fall, fundamentally altering the landscape of 2020 athletics. College football has lost two of the Power Five conferences, all thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time since 1918, when college football was forced into cancelation by the Spanish Flu epidemic, storied teams like the Ohio State University Buckeyes, the University of Michigan Wolverines and the University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears will not be fielding a college football team this fall.
Or will they? Despite schools remaining staunchly committed to their decision to suspend the college football season, many high profile players have taken it upon themselves to fight for that ruling’s reversal. Manifesting in the #WeWantToPlay movement, players from across the college football world have taken to social media, either to plead with their universities to reinstate their seasons or to support those athletes who have had their college athletic careers put on hold. The movement has garnered massive support from players and fans alike, with a petition in support of it started by Ohio State’s star quarterback Justin Fields, which amassed over 300,000 signatures. Within the petition, Fields asks Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, Big Ten university Presidents and Big Ten athletic directors to “immediately reinstate the 2020 football season, [and] allow Big Ten players/teams to make their own choice as to whether they wish to play or opt out this fall season.”
The movement has received an endorsement from arguably the biggest name possible, President Donald Trump. After a conversation with Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Trump threw his full support behind holding a complete college football season this fall, tweeting out on August 10, “Play College Football!” Trump has remained an ardent supporter of the effort, saying at a rally on August 29, “I’ve been calling for football to be back, including Big Ten. Big Ten, get with it. Open up your season, Big Ten.”
While there have been rumors circulating in recent weeks that both the Big Ten and the PAC-12 may reverse their decision and hold their college football seasons at the normal start date, word through official channels is that the schools remain committed to their original decision and will not be swayed by public pressure.
However, none of these developments mean that there will be no college football this fall. At press time, the Big-12, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the South Eastern Conference (SEC) are all still committed to holding their football seasons at the normal time. Additionally, the Big Ten and PAC-12 are reportedly in talks to start their football seasons as soon as Thanksgiving.
Do not despair, college football fans. There is still hope.