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Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez: Big Ten Canceling CFB Would Be Catastrophic

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2020

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, speaks during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on intercollegiate athlete compensation. Federal legislation setting guidelines for college athletes to pursue money-making opportunities could be proposed within a month, and Gonzalez, who is planning to introduce it, said Thursday, June 4, 2020, there will be no blanket antitrust exemption for the NCAA. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who was a star wide receiver at Ohio State, believes the Big Ten would be making a mistake if it canceled college football for the fall season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gonzalez spoke to USA Today's Steve Berkowitz about the matter:

"I learned more in that college football environment than I did in any classroom or in any other environment that I've ever been in, and I know that I'm not alone in that. So, to take that opportunity away from these kids, many of whom come from some of the most difficult backgrounds that this country has to offer, I think is catastrophic for them. ...

"The risk is obviously there. But I think that if you're in an environment where coaches want to coach, players want to play and parents of players want their kids to play that, at the very least, you need to create the option."

Dan Patrick reported on his radio show that the Big Ten and Pac-12 were planning to announce a cancellation Tuesday, with the ACC and Big 12 still weighing the decision.

Dan Patrick Show @dpshow

DP was told an hour ago that the Big 10 and Pac 12 will cancel their football seasons tomorrow... The ACC and the Big 12 are on the fence.. And the SEC is trying to get teams to join them for a season. Watch live: https://t.co/sMaeXQkLfl https://t.co/oSUNGMTEqw

However, Cleveland.com's Nathan Baird reported Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson would be against the plan if it were brought to a vote Monday.

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost and Ohio State head coach Ryan Day floated the idea their respective teams could leave the Big Ten temporarily in order to play this fall.

Husker Sports @HuskerSports

"Our University is committed to playing no matter what, no matter what that looks like and how that looks. We want to play no matter who it is or where it is." #Huskers HC Scott Frost on opponents for 2020. https://t.co/kTPN9znv0v

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Ohio State coach Ryan Day was just asked on ESPN about playing in another conference if the Big Ten shuts down: "We need to look at every option. And if that's the only option, we need to explore it and see if that's something we can do." 👀

Penn State head coach James Franklin issued a statement asking administrators to continue taking time to fully examine the situation before making a final call:

James Franklin @coachjfranklin

#WeAre https://t.co/dsZEGczZ84

Meanwhile, some players, including Buckeyes star Justin Fields, signaled their desire to play while listing a number of demands they'd like to see met before a season kicks off:

Justin Fields @justnfields

#WeWantToPlay https://t.co/NgKG9Nab9c

Sports leagues have shown the utility of setting up a dedicated bubble to stage games in terms of limiting the spread of the coronavirus. That would potentially open a Pandora's box for the NCAA and university administrators, though, since it could upend the amateurism model.

According to ESPN's Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach, "at least five" athletes from the Big Ten and some athletes from other conferences have developed myocarditis, a heart condition that is believed to be linked to COVID-19.

The report underscored the health risk to athletes no matter what steps universities take to set up health and safety protocols.