As discussions about postponing the 2020 college football season continue, players and coaches are trying to save the season.
Using the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, many star players — including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence — expressed their support in playing this year, a sentiment echoed by President Trump Monday.
“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled. #WeWantToPlay” the President tweeted.
The debate over this year’s college football season comes as more than 5 million coronavirus cases and over 163,000 deaths have been reported in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Leaders from college sports’ “Power Five” conferences have discussed calling off the football season and other fall sports, according to reports from multiple sports news outlets including ESPN, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, who all cited several sources.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, Clemson running back Darien Rencher called the movement by the players as their “last Hail Mary” to try to make something happen for the season.
“Just to see the response and support of so many guys who ultimately want the same thing. We want to play. We want to do it safely. … We feel safe,” he said.
Lawrence, Clemson’s quarterback, told reporters Monday players felt the momentum was going the wrong way for them. And like these players would do in the game, they’re doing all they can to change that momentum.
“We were like, ‘We’ve got to do something quick and we’ve got to do something that will make people read it and make people listen,'” Lawrence said. “We really do feel safe here. Hopefully it’s like that everywhere. … We feel safer here than anywhere else, honestly.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said he was proud to standby players and support them.
“We all know there’s risk. We all know there’s a virus. If we cancel football, the virus isn’t going to go away,” Swinney said. “It is fully my belief that these guys are safer here than without us. Not only are they safer here, (but) mentally, it’s better for them.”
Swinney did say if he was told that canceling football would mean no one got the virus, then he’d “be the first person to sign up.”
“But that’s not reality,” he said. “The virus isn’t going away. It’s going to still be here in the spring.”
Other coaches, like Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and University of Nebraska head coach Scott Frost, also lended their support to players’ calls to continue the season.
While no announcement on the football or fall sports season has been made yet, in mid-March, as the pandemic was building, the NCAA canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships.