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Trump, coaches push for college football as cracks start to emerge

President Donald Trump on Monday joined a U.S. senator and a number of coaches calling to save the college football season from a pandemic-forced shutdown as supporters pushed the premise that the players are safer because of their sport.

There was speculation two of the five most powerful conferences — the Big Ten and the Pac-12 — might call off their fall seasons and explore the possibility of spring football.

The Mountain West became the second conference in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivison to do just that, joining the Mid-American Conference in giving up hope on playing any sports in the fall. Farther east, Old Dominion canceled fall sports, too, becoming the first school in college football’s highest tier to break from its league; the rest of Conference USA was going forward with plans to play.

A Big Ten spokesman said no votes on fall sports had been taken by its presidents and chancellors as of Monday afternoon, and the powerful Southeastern Conference made clear it was not yet ready to shutter its fall season.

“Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day,'” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey posted on Twitter. “Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying.”

A growing number of athletes have spoken out about saving the season, with Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence among a group posting to Twitter with the hashtag WeWantToPlay. Trump threw his support behind them Monday.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled,” the president tweeted.

That didn’t help the Mountain West, which announced that all fall sports including football were postponed.

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