Utah players in support of the #WeWantToPlay movement

Ryan Kostecka

If it was up to linebacker Devin Lloyd, Utah would be kicking off its 2020 college football season on Saturday, Sept. 26 up in Pullman, Wash. against Washington State.

Unfortunately it's not up to Lloyd, or any of his teammates for that matter, as to whether or not they will actually get to see the field this fall. 

According to reports that broke out late Sunday night, multiple sports and news outlets, including Sports Illustrated, are saying that the upcoming college football season is close to being canceled/suspended.

“It’s gotten to a critical stage,” one conference commissioner told Sports Illustrated Sunday, after a conference call between the heads of the Power 5 conferences. “I think all of us will be meeting with our boards in the coming days. We have work to do that is no fun."

According to some, college football among the Power 5 conferences is coming down to the the Big Ten/Pac-12 vs. the ACC/Big-12/SEC.

“It’s gotten to a critical stage,” one conference commissioner told Sports Illustrated Sunday, after a conference call between the heads of the Power 5 conferences. “I think all of us will be meeting with our boards in the coming days. We have work to do that is no fun.”

The SEC is doing everything it can to not cancel and wants to play football this fall — the Big-12 and ACC are sitting back and seeing how this all plays out — the Pac-12 is still in the midst of deciding but leaning towards cancelling — and reports have surfaced that the Big Ten is done.

This is not sitting well with college football players throughout the nation, who have started their own #WeWantToPlay movement that has gained serious traction on social media and is being supported by many big-name college coaches and players.

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Among those leading the charge to play this season are Clemson quarterback Trevor Allen, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell — all of whom are considered the top-three prospects in college football and surefire top-5 picks in next year's NFL draft.

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“Moving forward, what we really want to be able to create is a legitimate voice for the athletes in these major conferences,” Cal offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso told Sports Illustrated on Sunday. Daltoso was one of the players who helped coordinate the Pac-12’s “#WeAreUnited” movement earlier this month.

According to Daltoso, within days after the Pac-12 players formed their 18-person leadership committee, they began speaking with players from other conferences. This sparked players from the Big Ten to form their own committee, adding the conference needs to include player input before making their own proposal.

Communication among college football players was already occurring at a national level when the “We Want To Play” hashtag began populating social media Sunday, seemingly as a response to players who were threatening to opt out. Daltoso said players from across all Power 5 conferences took part in multiple calls over the weekend and realized they were on the same page. 

The final push came from a Zoom call Sunday night with a couple representatives from each conference, including Lawrence; Sewell; Fields; Alabama running back Najee Harris; Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard; Oregon's Johnny Johnson III, Jevon Holland and Kayvon Thibodeaux; Utah's Nick Ford; Washington State's Dallas Hobbs; and Michigan's Hunter Reynolds.

Utah players have now taken to social media to show their support in playing this upcoming season, headlined by Lloyd and quarterback Jake Bentley.

Apart from the Utes showcasing their support to play this season, they received an unlikely adversary when President Trump quote tweeted Lawrence. Trump also took to Twitter later on be saying "Playing College Football."

"The president would very much like to see college football safely resume their sport ... they work their whole lives for this moment and he'd like to see [these athletes] live out their dreams," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday.

The athletes also picked up another supporter when U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, wrote a letter to Big Ten officialls urging them to allow the players onto the field this fall.

"Life is about tradeoffs," Sasse wrote. "There are no guarantees that college football will be completely safe -- that's absolutely true; it's always true. But the structure and discipline of football programs is very likely safer than what the lived experience of 18-to-22-year-olds will be if there isn't a season.

"Canceling the fall season would mean closing down socially-distanced, structured programs for these athletes. Young men will be pushed away from universities that are uniquely positioned to provide them with testing and health care."

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