Several college football programs started their seasons on Saturday, bringing excitement to fans around the country. Ohio State, Michigan and the other Big Ten teams were not among this group due to the conference postponing fall sports, a fact that regularly irritates President Donald Trump. He tweeted on Sunday about how the Big Ten could return amid COVID-19 and used the opportunity to call out the governors.
"Big Ten Football is looking really good, but may lose Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland because of those Governors' ridiculous lack of interest or political support. They will play without them?" Trump tweeted. The three states mentioned host five of the 14 Big Ten teams, including Michigan and Michigan State. Gretchen Whitmer, the Democrat governor of Michigan, has stringent shutdown laws. However, she has not explicitly mentioned anything about holding up football games.
The Detroit Lions — like the rest of the NFL — are set to kick off the season on Sunday. The first game pits the Michigan team against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Fans will not attend the game due to coronavirus regulations, while teams such as the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs will allow a limited number.
Trump has long called for the Big Ten to take part in the fall football season alongside the SEC and ACC. He has tweeted about the football teams several times and even reportedly met with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. Trump said that they had discussed immediately starting up the football season and called the conversation productive. "Would be good (great!) for everyone - Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!" Trump tweeted.
The Big Ten acknowledged the talks but did not exactly express the same level of confidence. The conference released a statement and said that the Return to Competition Task Force is "exhausting every resource" to help student-athletes get back to playing sports. However, the statement said that this would happen at the "appropriate time."
This message follows a Saturday in which multiple teams faced off in front of relatively empty stadiums. Marshall easily defeated Eastern Kentucky while Army took care of business against Middle Tennessee State University. SMU won a fiercely-competitive game against Texas State by a score of 31-24.
While these games took place, fans of Ohio State, Penn State and the Big Ten teams headed to social media to complain about the lack of football involving their favorite teams. They expressed the opinion that the games could take place without fans in attendance to keep everyone healthy.