Before Big Ten news, Smith made final pitch to save season
Before the Big Ten announced its decision to postpone football season, Illinois took the field for its regularly-scheduled practice in Champaign on Tuesday.
Then coach Lovie Smith made one last futile pitch to save the season on a Zoom call with reporters. Some Big Ten coaches, like Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Penn State's James Franklin, released statements on Twitter about why they felt the season should be played.
"I'm not one to make statements. I, like everybody else, would like to play, if you need a statement," Smith said. "We can put our name to some different things, but everybody that's practicing right now wants to play. I guess every one of our guys could go on Twitter and say something right now. But take my word, everybody here wants to play.
"We made the decision that we're going to keep going full speed ahead until someone tells us otherwise. What else can you do?"
Well, every Big Ten team was told otherwise a few hours later. Illinois appeared to be the most aggressive school in the Big Ten when it came to testing athletes for COVID-19. Smith said every player was tested every day. One Illini player opted out of the season, senior running back Ra'Von Bonner.
"We did a lot of planning. But right now if there's something that has caused us to pause, I would say we pause and not cancel, unless there is some strong evidence that says, 'We can't deal with this, we know it right now,'" Smith said. "You'd like to at least have a chance to play football first and then see if that doesn't work. That's what I would say."
Smith didn't see any reason to have a voice in meetings among school presidents.
"We as coaches have been meeting since April, planning everything that could possibly happen," Smith said. "I can't tell you how many meetings I've been in with ADs. We've gone over every conceivable thing you can think of. Another meeting for me right now is not going to change anything.
"I think if there's some strong evidence that says we shouldn't play college football, I think everybody can live with that if it's presented to us. If you have guys that are tested daily like we are, and everybody's tested negative, why not continue to do what we're doing?"
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