It's been clear since the beginning of August that Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields wants to play football in 2020. Now, he's putting proverbial pen to paper to try to make that happen. The preseason Heisman Trophy candidate has created a petition requesting that the Big Ten immediately reinstate football for the fall.
"We, the football players of the Big Ten, together with the fans and supporters of college football, request that the Big Ten Conference immediately reinstate the 2020 football season," the petition reads. "Allow Big Ten players/teams to make their own choice as to whether they wish to play or opt out this fall season. Allow Big Ten players/teams who choose to opt out of playing a fall season to do so without penalty or repercussion."
Fields followed up on Monday with a message to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and NCAA chief medical officer Dr. Brian Hainline in an appearance on ESPN.
"My biggest message to them is, really, to get them to realize how bad our players want to play," he said. "The guys who have come back for their fifth year off of injury, we owe it to those guys the most. I have seen behind the scenes all the work that they have put in and how much they really care about it. I believe the coaches and all of the parents of players want us to play. They all feel safe with the guidelines that Ohio State has set."
The petition had nearly 230,000 signatures as of 10 a.m. ET Monday.
The Big Ten pushed its season to next spring in a landmark decision Tuesday that was quickly followed by the Pac-12. Though the Big Ten was not the first conference to eschew football for a later date -- the MAC and Mountain West also pulled the plug on fall football, along with numerous other conferences in lower divisions -- it was by far the biggest domino to fall for college football in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In its announcement, the Big Ten cited "multiple factors" for the delay, including myocarditis, which is the inflammation of the heart muscle. At least 15 Big Ten players have been left with myocarditis after contracting COVID-19, a high-ranking source within the Big Ten told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.
"We will continue to consult with medical experts and evaluate the situation as it emerges," a statement from Nebraska read. "We hope it may be possible for our student athletes to have the opportunity to compete."
Nebraska has stated publicly it remains committed to the Big Ten, however.
Additionally, statements from parents of players at Iowa, Ohio State and Penn State have asked the Big Ten to reconsider its decision citing a lack of transparency in the process. The Big Ten released its 10-game, conference-only schedule a week before the conference nixed the 2020 season.
There's no denying the massive voice to play football. "Want to" is not an issue. Whether college football can be played in the fall is another story. The Big Ten and Pac-12, among many others, felt like it couldn't. It would take a major breakthrough on the medical front tomorrow for those decision-makers to think about reversing course, not a series of strongly worded letters.