First, we know that Trump has fixated on the Big Ten resuming its football season since it announced the postponement back in August. Along with pushing for it on Twitter, Trump has said he spoke to Kevin Warren, the conference’s commissioner, about resuming the season. According to a senior administration official, after Trump spoke to Warren, he directed the White House to provide any federal resources the conference needed. But as we know, the conference reportedly went with a private company instead.
Why? The same official told ABC News it was probably because of “political reasons, it was easy for the Big Ten to convince their presidents to vote for it if it wasn’t going to be provided by this White House.”
In a radio interview with Fox Sports’ Clay Travis, as flagged by CBS News, Trump recalled his conversation with Warren, saying, “Look, we’ll help you with testing. We’ll get you everything that you need. … But you got to get it back for those states. Those states want it. They’re real football states.” Trump did not explicitly say whether the conference accepted or declined his offer.
Mind you, other leagues, like the Pac-12 conference on the West Coast, had originally not been part of Trump’s relentless fixation. Why? Probably because the Big Ten plays in a number of battleground states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. When the Big Ten initially postponed the season, a number of coaches, players, and their families protested the decision; Trump likely thinks that getting the conference back in action (or at least suggesting he had a role in it) will win him brownie points with voters.
But, as of Thursday, that’s changing. In the same Fox Sports interview, Trump said he has now set his sights on having the Pac-12 play, saying there’s “no reason why they shouldn’t be playing.” Because apparently a global pandemic is not a reason.