President Donald Trump appeared to give himself partial credit for the Big Ten college football conference’s decision to hold a season, Yahoo Sports reported on Wednesday. At least one analyst saw the move as an appeal to voters in swing states where schools in the conference are located.
Back in August, the conference — which includes some of the biggest names in top-tier college football, particularly in the Midwest — voted to postpone its season until further notice, as The Inquisitr reported. At the time, Commissioner Kevin Warren expressed concerns that the athletes and their support staff wouldn’t be able to safely play while the coronavirus pandemic was still raging. It was thought that the postponement might last until the spring.
That decision didn’t sit well with President Trump, who has been insistent about getting life back to normal, which he made clear included college football, in spite of the pandemic. In a tweet, he made it a political issue.
No, I want Big Ten, and all other football, back – NOW. The Dems don’t want football back, for political reasons, but are trying to blame me and the Republicans. Another LIE, but this is what we are up against! They should also open up all of their Shutdown States.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2020
On Wednesday, ESPN reported that the conference’s managers voted unanimously to hold an abbreviated, eight-game season starting the weekend of October 23 and 24. The universities cited stronger testing capabilities and increased confidence in the latest medical information as factors in their decision to hold the season sooner rather than later.
In a tweet, an elated Trump appeared to suggest he had a hand in the decision.
Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All teams to participate. Thank you to the players, coaches, parents, and all school representatives. Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2020
Barry Alvarez, the athletic director for the Wisconsin Badgers, also indicated that the president played a role in the vote.
“[Trump] talked to the commissioner. One of the things he did was make saliva tests available and show how returning to football in the Big Ten was important to him. How much of a factor he was, I think he drew attention to Big Ten football and had a solution.”
Yahoo Sports writer Peter Thamel did not appear convinced that the move came because of the president’s love of college football though. Rather, he suggested there may be a political motive at play. Specifically, many of the Big Ten schools are located in Midwestern swing states whose electoral votes are at-play in the 2020 election.
Kent Hance, a former congressman from Texas and ex-chancellor at Texas Tech, suggested that Trump’s role in the decision may mean little to voters. However, he also suggested that a little goes a long way.
“It’ll certainly be a talking point, but I don’t think it’ll be a tipping point. But if the election is close enough, anything and everything is a tipping point,” Hance said.
Former political strategist James Carville predicted that Trump will “blabber” about his role in the process, but he noted that a lot of Democrats care about college football too.