The travesty of the 2020 college football season is now on full display. With the SEC schedule collapsing like a house of cards, the biggest name in the sport, 68-year-old Alabama head coach Nick Saban, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in isolation at home, the university announced Wednesday evening.
Thankfully, Saban is not experiencing any symptoms of the coronavirus, he said in a statement. Alabama’s athletic director Greg Byrne, 48, also tested positive, the university said.
For now, No. 2 Alabama’s game with No. 3 Georgia is still on for this weekend, but the same can’t be said for two other SEC contests that are no longer on the schedule. LSU’s game at Florida was postponed Wednesday when it was announced that 21 Florida players had tested positive, meaning the school would have fewer than 50 scholarship players available when adding in everyone who came into contact with the infected players and is now in quarantine.
The SEC, twisting itself into knots to try to grind out a season in the middle of a pandemic, still has some standards. It says you have to have 53 scholarship players to play a game. Vanderbilt knows this well because it snuck in under the wire with 56 scholarship players last weekend.
But Vandy already knows that it doesn’t have the healthy bodies this week to pull off another game, so its trip to Missouri has been postponed.
Meanwhile, this just in from Ole Miss: Coach Lane Kiffin said his team is having “issues” with COVID-19. I’m not sure that qualifies as actual medical terminology, but since college football coaches usually prefer to say nothing about anything, I suspect we should keep an eye on Oxford over the next couple of days.
And outside the SEC, the Baylor-Oklahoma State game is postponed too. In all, 29 FBS games have been postponed or canceled because of COVID-19 this season. So far.
Clearly, the coronavirus is just beginning to flex its muscles in the tough-guy sport of college football. This was utterly predictable, and what’s happening is utterly shameful. Everyone who thought it was a good idea to use 18-22-year-olds as props to make some money by playing a sport that is the antithesis of social distancing should be starting to feel a little sick to their stomachs about now.
Over the past month or so, there has been this cartoonish exercise going on in college towns across the nation in which students and athletes are testing positive (and some are getting sick), but the all-important games, often rag-tag facsimiles of the real thing, are still being played. All the while, so-called college leaders are trying to convince themselves that everything is normal.
News flash: Nothing is normal. To use the language of college football, the pandemic is coming out of the locker room at halftime with a 35-0 lead, and it’s going to really start pouring it on in the second half.
The ignorance of these alleged college leaders knows no bounds. Last Saturday, Florida coach Dan MullIen said he wanted the university to allow the 90,000-seat football stadium to be filled for this weekend’s game. “Pack The Swamp,” he said, like it’s just any other old football season, or maybe a Trump rally.
When Florida officials shot down that idiotic idea, Mullen kept pushing, saying Monday that his players are “a model of safety of what we’ve been doing during this time period.”
Then the test results started coming back Tuesday, and the Gators suspended all team activities. Apparently they were not a model of safety after all.
While the SEC stumbles through October, how intelligent would the Big Ten be looking right now if it had had the courage of its convictions and hadn’t flip-flopped last month?
The Big Ten is one of four conferences (the Pac-12, Mountain West and MAC are the others) standing by, watching this fiasco unfold, still waiting to kick off. If they were smart, they never would.