Can the cancellation or resumption of a college football season influence who wins the 2020 presidential election? The answer can be debated, but President Trump isn’t taking any chances.
While it was widely reported President Trump had a phone call with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren on Monday, Michael Smith and John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal are reporting POTUS can thank FOX Sports Radio’s Clay Travis for organizing the chat.
The president’s “one yard line” claim in the tweet above has been disputed, with Yahoo’s Pete Thamel claiming that his sources at the Big Ten Office “heartily laughed at it.” Nonetheless, a conversation with the Big Ten commissioner did take place.
Aug. 11, the same day President Trump appeared on Travis’ FOX Sports Radio Show Outkick The Coverage, the Big Ten announced the cancellation of fall sports, including the football season because of COVID-19. The Pac-12 followed, but the other Power Five conferences announced plans to play the 2020 fall sports seasons. In response to the cancelled seasons, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden began running commercials in Big Ten markets, blaming Trump’s handling of the pandemic as the cause of no football.
President Trump has aggressively worked to convince all sports, schools and industries to reopen amid the global pandemic, and similarly, Travis has been outspoken in his belief that the country’s response to COVID-19 has been an overreaction. Travis has also continued to highlight media biases, likely winning fans within the White House.
To help handle the negative reaction from cancelling their football season, the Big Ten hired Carrie Cecil, CEO of the media strategy firm Anachel Communications. According to SBJ, Cecil contacted Travis about easing his criticism and claimed hypocrisy in the decision making by first-year Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren. In those discussions, Travis reportedly accelerated contact between the two parties. After being contacted by the White House and weighing the pros and cons, Cecil, Warren and the Big Ten agreed to speak with the president.
Following the conversation, Travis was involved in a conference call with Cecil and White House aides, with everyone agreeing they were hopeful for a Big Ten season. Big Ten football being on the “one yard” line might be a stretch, but if the federal government expressed a willingness to provide more rapid testing for athletes, the conference’s fall sports seasons might be nearing.