With the fate of college football season hanging in the balance, LSU coach Ed Orgeron made an impassioned plea Tuesday for the sport to be played this season as he spoke during a roundtable forum with Vice President Mike Pence on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge.
"I don't think we can take this away from these players, take this away from our state and our country," Orgeron said. "We need football. Football is a lifeblood of our country, our football. It gets everything going, the economy going, the economy of Baton Rouge, the economy of the state of Louisiana. These young men need this chance now."
Orgeron cited the rise of former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who led the Tigers to a national title last season, as an example of why players need to have a season. Burrow won the Heisman Trophy and was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft after entering the 2019 season considered only a potential late-round selection.
"If he didn't play last season, nobody would have ever known about Joe Burrow and we wouldn't have won the championship," Orgeron said.
Orgeron acknowledged the Tigers have battled COVID-19 within their program since players returned for voluntary workouts in June, saying "we did have a spike" and that "young men will be young men." But Orgeron also said "this can be handled."
"They're ready to go," Orgeron said. "We need football. We need to play. The state needs it. This country needs it."
His remarks came one day after SEC athletic directors met on Monday with conference leadership to discuss the fall sports season. The league has since announced the start of volleyball, soccer and cross country competition will be postponed until at least Aug. 31, but the SEC is not expected to announce a decision on football until the end of this month.