Given the events of the weekend, Monday figured to be a very interesting day in the land of college football. And it didn’t disappoint.
Between politicians lobbying with players for the right to play, head coaches weighing in and an update of sorts from SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, there was a ton of both news and reactions from the day in college football.
Bizarre day for the Big Ten
The big news of the morning was a report from the Detroit Free Press that the Big Ten was canceling its season. But the official announcement from the conference never came. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who played at Ohio State, seemed to clarify for the conference later in the day that is voting to postpone, and not cancel a fall season.
As we know this is a very fluid and ongoing situation. Things are said one minute and changed the next. So we’ll see what happens in the next 24-48 hours. Numerous options in play. We can all hope there will be CFB at some point. https://t.co/E0IILbjBWW
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) August 10, 2020
The Big Ten is set to be the first of the Power 5 conferences to return to the field this season, with Ohio State and Illinois set to play on Sept. 3. The league had previously agreed to a 10-game, conference-only schedule.
After the reports from this morning, a number of Big Ten head coaches came out with various statements, all of which were in favor of playing a season. From Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Penn State’s James Franklin, Ohio State’s Ryan Day and Nebraska’s Scott Frost, each head coach made it very clear they want to play.
Statement from Jim Harbaugh. pic.twitter.com/CftMW7d5lC
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) August 10, 2020
Opening statement from #Huskers HC Scott Frost.
"We want to play football at the University of Nebraska." pic.twitter.com/dVxefwSPHm
— Husker Sports (@HuskerSports) August 10, 2020
I love our players & believe it is my responsibility to help them chase their dreams, both collectively & individually. I am willing to fight WITH them & for our program!#WeAre
— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) August 10, 2020
Swinging as hard as we possibly can right now for these players!! This isn’t over! #FIGHT
— Ryan Day (@ryandaytime) August 10, 2020
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, talking to College Football Live:
"We need to explore every option" pic.twitter.com/Cp7bYE5Nsi
— Brian Holland (@BHollandSports) August 10, 2020
Day and Frost both stated that if they could not play in the Big Ten this season that they’d exhaust every option and explore the possibility of playing in a different conference this fall.
Politicians lobby for college football to be played
A day after the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Chubba Hubbard made the #WeWanttoPlay hashtag the top trending topic on Twitter, several politicians took to Twitter to voice that they also wanted to see college football played this season. Among them, United States Senators Marco Rubio and Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler and President Donald Trump had multiple tweets on the matter.
College universities and athletic conferences need to put politics aside and come together to find a way to safely play college football this season.
— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) August 10, 2020
They have no interest in getting to yes. Or in an honest cost-benefit analysis of playing versus not playing.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 10, 2020
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has drafted a letter that he plans to send to Big Ten presidents, identifying reasons why he believes college football should be played.@SINow obtained a copy.
Sasse is a former university president. pic.twitter.com/xrpRjiWREf
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) August 10, 2020
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2020
Play College Football!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2020
Not everyone associated with college football though was thrilled with the politicians getting involved. Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds voiced his displeasure with how Trump has handled the pandemic, putting college football players in a spot where they’d have to beg to play a season.
If you actually took this virus seriously months ago we wouldn’t even be in this situation.., https://t.co/l4hXVlYoKk
— Hunter Reynolds (@hunt_xxvii) August 10, 2020
Reynolds wasn’t the only player that didn’t seem thrilled about some of the hypocrisy when it comes to athletes speaking out.
It’s funny how we have the power now and fans agree to us trying to play through a PANDEMIC (which no one is excused from) but when students athletes speak on how we should be payed more they tell us to shutup and take a free education. Just funny to me I had to say something
— Jadon Haselwood 🎱 (@jadon_haselwood) August 10, 2020
Don’t let’s this shit distract y’all … stay woke 💯 https://t.co/BnTIA7ZXHX
— Rian "Trouble" Davis (@Trouble_R4) August 10, 2020
People so quick to make a decision on whether or not to play football but can’t make a decision on to arrest the people who killed Breonna Taylor… 🤔
— Trej (@TrejanBridges) August 10, 2020
What does it all mean for the SEC?
While the Big Ten seems on the verge of making a decision, the SEC seems content to continue on its path that it has set out on. The league delayed the start of the season until Sept. 26, in part to see how introducing students to campus would impact cases.
Sankey provided an update on where the conference stands.
“Can we play,” Sankey asked on Twitter. “I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying. We support, educate, and care for student-athletes every day and will continue to do so … every day.”
…Deveoped testing protocols…We know concerns remain. We have never had a FB season in a COVID-19 environment. Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying. We support, educate and care for student-athletes every day, and will continue to do so…every day.
— Greg Sankey (@GregSankey) August 10, 2020
Sankey was far from the only SEC figure to share their thoughts on where things stand on Monday. Both coaches — such as Florida’s Dan Mullen and Arkansas’ Sam Pittman — and players like Auburn’s Bo Nix and Alabama’s Mac Jones made it clear they want to play this season.
I am so proud of our players. Their commitment to medical guidelines to stay safe has showed their resolve in preparing the right way for the season. They deserve to play this fall. They have worked so hard for this. Let’s fight for them and find a way. #WeWantToPlay
— Dan Mullen (@CoachDanMullen) August 10, 2020
— Coach Sam Pittman (@CoachSamPittman) August 10, 2020
Thanks to the support of the ENTIRE Auburn administration, we are safer playing a football season. We have worked our entire lives to get to where we are now. Don’t let it go to waste. We need football. Listen to the players #WeWantToPlay
— Bo Nix (@BoNix10) August 10, 2020
— Mac Jones (@MacJones_10) August 10, 2020
Alabama head coach Nick Saban does not have a Twitter, but he did make his stance clear in speaking to ESPN’s Chris Low.
“I want to play, but I want to play for the players’ sake, the value they can create for themselves,” Saban told ESPN. “I know I’ll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don’t care about player safety. Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of July.”
Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman also met with the Tennessee team on Monday as well.
This afternoon, I met with our football team and staff to have an open conversation about playing football this fall. At the end of our discussion, I asked if they wanted to play football and the answer was a resounding YES. pic.twitter.com/cg9AFw4J86
— Donde Plowman (@DondePlowman) August 10, 2020
A handful of Georgia football players have stated that they want to play, but none of the Georgia coaches, including head coach Kirby Smart, have said anything on the matter.
But Georgia legend Herschel Walker did ask to keep politics out of sports and allow players to play.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL…please please please take the politics out of sports and let these guys PLAY!! We can put safety protocols in place but America needs to cheer! #LetThemPlay @espn @FoxNews @CollegeGameDay @POTUS @realDonaldTrump @CollegeFootball @CNN @GeorgiaFootball
— Herschel Walker (@HerschelWalker) August 10, 2020
The biggest new concern
There was a new concern that crystalized on Monday, as a report from ESPN outlined why the sudden change in the Big Ten. It comes from the conference learning more about COVID-19, specifically with the effects the disease has on the heart and how it has led to cases of Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, in five Big Ten athletes.
The studies done about COVID-19 and increases in Myocarditis are still in their infancy but there’s enough anecdotal evidence to raise the alarm. It’s also just another example of not knowing the long-term risks of the disease yet.
Unfortunately, we're still learning about the virus in real time. As much as some pundits like to claim "college athletes are at greater risk of getting struck by lightning," the reality is, even doctors don't fully understand the long-term risks yet.
That's what scares schools.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 10, 2020
Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, who tested positive for COVID-19, was diagnosed with Myocarditis and because of that will not pitch this season. It will be worth monitoring how much this specific issue is discussed when talking about whether athletes should come back and return to play this fall.
Another conference and team pulls the plug
Prior to Monday, the Mid-American Conference and the University of Connecticut had announced that they would not being playing this fall. Another conference joined the MAC, while Old Dominion announced it would not be playing this fall.
The Mountain West is now the second FBS conference to announce it will postpone its season. That means the likes of Boise State, Colorado State and Hawaii will not play this fall.
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) August 10, 2020
Another Group of 5 conference though did announce that it would be following the SEC’s lead, as Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reports that the Sun Belt will be following the SEC’s lead. McMurphy also reported that Conference USA will continue and try to play this season, even with member Old Dominion announcing it will not have a season.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- SEC commissioner Greg Sankey reveals league stance amid uncertain times
- Report: Big Ten cancels football season, per anonymous sources
- REPORTS: SEC recruiting ACC, Big 12 to continue seasons, Florida governor supports playing
- College football season crisis: Commissioners meet, players organize
- How we got from a schedule announcement to college football players attempting to unionize in one weekend
- Mark Richt, DJ Shockley defend South Carolina assistant Mike Bobo amid allegations of racial insensitivity
- What the other Power Five schedules tell us about what the SEC schedule might look like
- BREAKING: Elite TE target Brock Bowers has made his college decision
- CFB crisis, commissioners meet, players organize