Florida will host a college football national championship game, no matter how few conferences take to the gridiron this fall, Gov. Ron DeSantis maintains.
And DeSantis, in including college football among the industries needed to revive the economy, isn’t shy in saying the Big Ten Conference would be making a “huge mistake” by not allowing its schools to play this season.
“These are kids that have worked their whole lives for this. And to take that away, when it doesn’t need to be taken away, was a huge, huge mistake that the Big Ten made,” DeSantis said Monday during an appearance with White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas. “And I think if they don’t play, all of those kids should be able to transfer someplace that’s going to let them play.”
The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences — two of the five big football conferences — called off their seasons last month amid the pandemic. The Southeastern Conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12 Conference are moving forward with games.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump made a plea for Big Ten leaders to change their mind, calling Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and tweeting that immediately starting the football season “Would be good (great!) for everyone.”
In its Aug. 11 decision to call off the season, the Big Ten pointed to a number of issues, including “medical advice and counsel” about the unknown risks of COVID-19. A significant concern was myocarditis, which involves an inflammation of the heart muscle.
The American Heart Association says, “Fulminant myocarditis, often caused by a viral infection, comes on suddenly and often with significant severity, resulting in an exceptionally high risk of death caused by cardiogenic shock (the heart’s inability to pump enough blood), fatal arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) and multiorgan failure.”
Atlas, a physician and senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University, backed playing football this fall during his trip to Florida this week. The University of Florida, which is part of the Southeastern Conference, and Florida State University and the University of Miami, which are in the Atlantic Coast Conference, are preparing for the season.
Atlas questioned the focus on the coronavirus and myocarditis and pointed to the opinion of Mayo Clinic genetic cardiologist Michael Ackerman.
“I know there was a cardiologist from Mayo Clinic the other day who said, you know, this is absurd to close college football for that,” Atlas said.
This season’s national championship game is scheduled for Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
“It’s going to happen,” DeSantis said. “We look forward to doing that. It’ll obviously be an SEC school. Maybe two SEC schools. Who knows, maybe Clemson (of the ACC) and an SEC school. Ohio State (of the Big Ten), I think, would have had a good shot and they should be able to play. But we’re going to do that. And we’re also having pro football. With the Miami Dolphins, they have a limited capacity stadium plan. They’re executing that. Jacksonville is going to do the same thing. And we believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do the same.”