College Football Calls 911
The Big Ten and Pac-12 haven't even started playing games yet and the 2020 college football season is already experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath.
Head coaches are testing positive for COVID-19. Large numbers of players are getting infected with the virus. Dozens of games, including several high-profile matchups, have been postponed. The games that are being played usually have no fans in attendance.
Last Saturday the highly-anticipated matchup between No. 10 Florida and defending national champion LSU was cancelled because of a coronavirus outbreak in the Florida camp. The even more highly-anticipated matchup between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia was threatened by the positive test of the most successful coach in college football, Alabama's Nick Saban.
When things affect the all-powerful SEC, people take notice.
One thing we know for sure. There will be more sick athletes and more game cancellations to come. There’s no guarantee that the season will be completed.
The decision to play college football this fall, as we have argued for the past several months, was morally bankrupt.
Contrary to the absurd claims of Oregon president Michael Schill and other sanctimonious hypocrites, there was only one justification for holding football games during a pandemic that is spiking in most of the places where the participating colleges are located.
Not education. Not tradition. Not competition. Not rivalries. Not players. Not fans.
That's why this season has eliminated any pretense about the fact that college football players are employees.
Sorry to disappoint those purists who believe in amateurism and that the term student-athlete has any validity, but that’s the cold, hard truth.
Consider that Stanford, which used to be a proud example of the student-athlete model, had to move its first several football practices to another county because public health officials in Santa Clara County (where the school is located) deemed it unsafe. And no other students (except for a few special needs cases) are on the Stanford campus right now.
Even Stanford coach David Shaw, a good and moral man, seems to have bought into the hypocrisy.
"We're living in an overreaction society right now," Shaw claimed a few days ago.
"I don't mean that in a political sense. I just mean, in general. If you really think about everything that's happened in the past six months, did anybody think we were going to make it through this entire season without anybody getting sick and any games being affected?"
No, David. We didn't. That's precisely why you shouldn't be playing.
I like David Shaw, and I love Stanford, but the university and the football coach are starting to sound and behave like every other money-driven major college football program in the country.
Cutting "minor" sports. Twisting into pretzels trying to justify playing football in the midst of a rising pandemic. Walking off the cliff like the rest of the lemmings. Putting wealth over health.
And here I always thought Stanford was different.
Leach Redux: Well, that didn't take long. After a season-opening upset win over LSU, Mike Leach's Mississippi State Bulldogs have returned to reality, losing in successive weeks to Arkansas, Kentucky, and Texas A&M, and Leach has returned to form.
Regular readers of this blog know of my sincere distaste for Leach, because of his bizarre antics, absurd media attacks, and mistreatment of players. After the LSU win, we gave him his due, but pointed out that the difficulty defending Leach often only extends to the first time you see his Air Raid offense.
Now that the rest of the SEC has had some time to study his relatively simple scheme (hello, crossing patterns), he could be in for a long season. Same goes for quarterback K.J. Costello, the Stanford transfer.
After passing for 623 yards against LSU (which has proven to have a matador defense this year under despised DC Bo Pellini), Costello threw three picks in the 21-14 loss to Arkansas and four in the embarrassing 24-2 loss to Kentucky, then added two more turnovers against A&M. He was benched halfway through the last two losses.
Of course Leach hasn’t accepted any of the blame, pointing to the "malcontents" on his roster that might have to be "purged."
When Leach was hired, we suggested that Bulldog fans brace themselves for a disappointing ride. He's crashed even sooner than I expected.