The president mentioned that he had called both Wednesday and those calls were confirmed by Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney and LSU.
“It’s my understanding that they did, but I don’t know anything about those conversations,” Swinney told reporters (via the Greenville News). “He didn’t share any details about any conversation with me.”
A Clemson spokesperson told the News that Lawrence and the president spoke “briefly [at] midday.”
During a Wednesday media appearance with Vice President Pence, Trump reiterated that he wants to see college football this fall.
“I’ll tell you who wants to do it are the players and the coaches,” Trump said. “They want to do it. I spoke with Trevor Lawrence — the great quarterback — and he’s very smart. He understood it very well. He said, ‘Hey, I’m a lot safer on the field than I am being out there.’ He got it. He got it very quickly.”
Later Trump repeated that he had spoken with Lawrence and Orgeron and added: “They want to play football. Let 'em play.”
Although the Big Ten and Pac-12 have announced that they are postponing their football seasons, the sport’s other Power Five conferences — the ACC, SEC and Big 12 — plan to play this fall. Clemson is an ACC member and LSU is in the SEC.
Conference officials say they have listened to medical experts in implementing measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Players are tested frequently and isolated for much of the time from other people. However, as SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has indicated, if the medical advice were to change, “it certainly would be a stopping point. The indicators are we can right now do what we’re doing in a healthy way.”
Trump went on to say that he had spoken with Orgeron. “He’s some coach, that one, he’s a great coach and he feels his players just want to be out there,” Trump said.
The president has watched both LSU and Clemson play in person and hosted each after it won the national championship. Most recently, he attended the College Football Playoff championship game between top-ranked LSU and No. 3 Clemson on Jan. 13 at the Superdome in New Orleans, where he was greeted with cheers when he was introduced before the national anthem. He also attended a regular season game between LSU and Alabama last November in Tuscaloosa, Ala., getting a warm reception, as well as the Army-Navy game Dec. 19 in Philadelphia.
Earlier this week, Trump called the possibility that the college football season might be canceled “a tragic mistake.”