Takeaways: Playing through pandemic predictably frustrating

By Ralph Russo

The college football Saturday started with another game being postponed, the 18th of the week, and a dispute between Clemson and Florida State.

Clemson wanted to play, even though it brought a player who ended up testing positive on Friday night to Tallahassee. Florida State medical officials said no, and the Tigers went home mad.

Who is right is hardly worth arguing. Both schools can reasonably claim they appropriately followed protocols and their decisions were signed off by experts.

“We listened to our medical folks and their assessment of the risk and we decided it wasn’t safe to play today,” Florida State athletic director David Coburn told the AP.

This is the season college football signed up for when conferences decided to play through a pandemic that is raging worse than it has all year.

Complain about contact tracing putting healthy athletes in quarantine. Complain about false positives causing players to miss games, causing teams to call games. Complain about conferences not allowing teams to schedule make-up games on short notice. Complain about one team deciding it won’t play while another team believes there is no reason not to play.

It is all very frustrating, and especially disappointing for players, who are being asked to follow a litany of rules that make life anything but normal so they can have a chance to compete.

It is also all very predictable and everybody making decisions about whether to play gave fair warning this was coming.

“We will have disruptions during the season,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in May. “I fully expect that we’ll have an outbreak on Wednesday afternoon and games may need to be canceled on Saturday. We’ll need to understand shutdown procedures and how we go about quarantining when the need arises.”

No. 4 Clemson at Florida State was the 18th game called out of 62 scheduled. That’s 29%. Last week 25% (15 of 59) of the games needed to be canceled or postponed.

Louisiana-Lafayette coach Billy Napier became the 17th to publicly acknowledge testing positive for COVID-19. The 24th-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns had their game called off this weekend and returned to the practice field Saturday, without their coach.

College football can’t control the pandemic. Nothing seems to be controlling the pandemic right now. So college football will continue to push through it, hoping for the best and trying to complete the season before it turns into a farce.

Associated Press
The Associated Press is an independent, non-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Our teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. We provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
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