LSU coach Ed Orgeron said the country “needs football” during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday in Baton Rouge.
Orgeron spoke during a roundtable discussion at Tiger Stadium on reopening Louisiana schools in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We need to play. This state needs it. This country needs it,” Orgeron said as Pence applauded.
Louisiana’s confirmed coronavirus caseload is among the fastest growing per capita across the country, and its infection and hospitalization rates are surging, worrying public health experts in a state that previously seemed to be successfully flattening the curve of infections.
“This [coronavirus] can be handled,” Orgeron said.
In June, a large number of LSU football players were placed into quarantine in an effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, sources confirmed to ESPN.
“I don’t think we can take this away from our players, take this away from our state and our country,” Orgeron said. “We need football. Football is the lifeblood of our country.”
Though the future of the fall season remains unclear, Orgeron did not hedge on his thoughts: “We have our team back, ready to go. We need football.”
Pence, who is the chairman of the White House coronavirus task force, said the nation is “in a much better position today to deal with the pandemic.”
LSU visited the White House in January in recognition of its national championship win.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Saturday his concern for the football season is “high to very high” and acknowledged, “we are running out of time to correct and get things right,” during an interview on Marty & McGee on ESPN Radio. Sankey said a decision on playing this fall will be made in late July.
ESPN’s Alex Scarborough and The Associated Press contributed to this report.