Hours after canceling all fall sports, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren addressed the decision on the Big Ten Network, calling it “holistic.
“This is a holistic decision,” Warren said Tuesday, Aug. 11. “There is too much uncertainty now for us to feel comfortable to go forward and have fall sports in the Big Ten. We just need to constantly do the right thing from a medical standpoint to make sure that our student-athletes have an environment that remains both healthy and safe.”
It was a perfect choice of words for the first-time commissioner. Warren deserves criticism for baffling messaging, lack of transparency, and the contentious process behind canceling fall sports, but he doesn’t deserve criticism for explaining the decision three weeks ago. It was holistic, in the philosophical sense, not the medical sense, obviously.
The big picture for Big Ten athletics is more than the sum of the thousands of small pictures within and surrounding the 14 member institutions. The decision, we hope, was made in the best interest of the student-athletes, not those who make millions of dollars off unpaid student-athletes. The decision was made in the best interest of a country pissing on itself during a global pandemic. Three weeks later, Kevin Warren has another “holistic” decision to make, though this one is far easier and far more important.
“Had a very productive conversation with Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, about immediately starting up Big Ten football,” President Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning. “Would be good (great!) for everyone – Players, Fans, Country. On the one yard line!”
Trump, of course, is a habitual liar who’s made thousands of false and misleading claims in his 43 months in office. Until the Big Ten confirmed the conversation, anyone with common sense wondered if Trump was lying, again.
“A White House representative reached out to Big Ten Conference commissioner Kevin Warren on Monday, August 31, 2020 to facilitate a phone call between President Donald J. Trump and Commissioner Warren,” the Big Ten said. “On Tuesday, September 1, 2020, Commissioner Warren and the President had a productive conversation.
“The Big Ten Conference and its Return to Competition Task Force, on behalf of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C), are exhausting every resource to help student athletes get back to playing the sports they love, at the appropriate time, in the safest and healthiest way possible.”
The conversation comes as the Big Ten faces a lawsuit from eight Nebraska football players, and parents of football players demand answers from Warren and the conference. It also comes two days before the first FBS games are scheduled for the 2020 fall season, a season that won’t include 53 teams, and 62 days before the general election.
The Big Ten footprint covers 11 states, the most of any FBS or FCS conference. Trump is polling behind Biden in seven of those states, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling average combining national polling and partisan voting index with state polling average. Trump is leading within the margin of error in two states and leading outright in two states. Trump called Kevin Warren (and told everyone he called Kevin Warren) because his numbers suck in several key states, notably Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, three states he won in 2016. Meanwhile, Trump didn’t call Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, according to several college football insiders. You’ve made it this far in the article, therefore you have a brain, can read, and know why Trump didn’t call Scott.
Is the Big Ten actually on the “one yard line” for a fall restart?
“To say multiple sources denied the notion of the Big Ten playing immediately would not be strong enough. The sources heartily laughed at it,” Pete Thamel reported on Tuesday afternoon. “The notion of playing around Thanksgiving is in embryonic discussion, and there’s a desire among coaches to start as early as possible. But “immediately” is in another universe, especially with multiple Big Ten teams not even having players on campus right now.”
The Big Ten isn’t on the “one yard line” and needs to tell everyone they’re not on the “one yard line.” Kevin Warren needs to learn from his transparency mistakes three weeks ago and categorically deny (or confirm if the unimaginable is true) Trump’s claim. In his own words, this is a “holistic” decision for Kevin Warren, who’s a key player in the 2020 election whether he likes it or not.