Aug 10, 2020

You have currently viewed 1 story this month.

IlliniBoard now offers two free stories per month, for more please subscribe.

When you have absolutely no idea what to write about because you're constantly checking your phone wondering if these SOURCES TELL ME tweets are going to turn into actual news being released that the college football season is going to be canceled, just start writing.

Great Timing

I wrote that other post yesterday morning. Then I got the "this is dumb, I can't publish this" jitters and sat on it for a couple hours. Then I posted it at 2:00 or so. Then Twitter blew up with "emergency meeting tonight - college football to be canceled as early as tomorrow". I wrote that article a little tongue-in-cheek (DID ILLINOIS JUST SAVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL?) but I was really asking that question. If rapid testing is the key, is the methodology Illinois is using right now the path to an actual season?

Looks like that's a big fat "NO".

It made me realize that I've been spending too much time thinking about paths. In late June/early July, states started to spike (mostly in the south) and we saw a lot of "if you want college football, wear a mask". Curve-wise, there was still time. Those states were careening towards shutdowns, and those shutdowns would take down college football (at least that's how I interpreted "if you want football wear a mask").

Now I realize that this really didn't have much to do with anything. From everything I'm reading (and I'm reading a lot), it seems like college football was headed towards cancellation regardless of state numbers. I'm not seeing this tied to state and regional outbreaks or any healthcare system overload (maybe I'm reading the wrong articles); everything is tied to the unknowns. Here's a statement from the MAC commissioner when they canceled football:

"Clearly we are charting a conservative path -- and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group," Steinbrecher told reporters on a video conference. "There are simply too many unknowns for us to put our student-athletes in situations that are not clearly understood. We have traditionally been a leader on student-athlete well-being issues. This has not been an easy decision. For the Mid-American Conference, it is the right decision."

Those unknowns would be there regardless of "wear a mask if you want football". They would be there if all schools had set up a rapid testing protocols. The things that I thought might save college football over the summer weren't things at all - at the core, conferences like the MAC saw it as, to paraphrase, "there are too many unknowns to say that we can do this safely". Every statement in that article above, from the NIU AD to the Central Michigan coach, points to that as the central issue for the decision they made.

And if that's the case, there was no "if we can get cases/deaths down under X, we can play". There's no "test before they enter the building every day" that matters. The issue, at least for the MAC (and, apparently, if these reports are true, for the Big Ten), is, to quote the MAC Commissioner, "too many unknowns for us to put our student athletes in situations that are not understood". The only thing that eliminates unknowns would be a vaccine.

Which moves me back to where I was in March - no college sports until a vaccine. That likely eliminates the Ayo and Kofi show, which breaks my heart, but I'm back to not being able to see how it could happen. Yes, basketball has 13 players and football has 85, but those are still players on campus, not in a bubble. If the Big Ten is canceled today, and the statements say "too many unknowns - we can't put our athletes at risk", then I think that clearly means no college sports until a vaccine.

What If The Big Ten Is The Only Conference To Cancel?

Couldn't sleep last night (obviously - later this week I hit six months since I quit my job and we're still out here canceling sports). I read Dan Wetzel's article when I went to bed and then I tossed and turned for an hour. His premise: if the Big Ten cancels, it doesn't mean that the other conferences will do the same. Your mind can spin when it's dark late at night, and my mind spun to all kinds of nightmare scenarios.

What if the Big Ten cancels and everyone else plays? How many Illini players would do what Roderick Perry did and transfer to somewhere where they can play after their conference cancels football? What if the Big Ten and the MAC cancel but all other conferences have a season and all these players migrate south for the fall? I'd calm myself down with things like "no WAY they would allow that to happen" and "most schools are at their 85 scholarship limit", but it's still hard to fight off those thoughts late at night.

With the daylight, I think those fears have calmed. I doubt the NCAA would allow for increased scholarship limits, so in the unlikely scenario that the Big Ten is the only conference to cancel (I mean, there's no WAY the Big Ten would jump into the pool after the countdown while the other conferences laughed while standing on the edge, right? We'd at least do the hand-holding method, yes?), there wouldn't be many destinations for players to immediately grad-transfer out. So it wouldn't be an exodus. There would at least be the promise of spring football.

But man, what a rough night that was. I've been pointing to this season for years, and now, not only will it likely not happen, I could possibly watch that roster crumble. 10 out of 10 nightmare.

Free Luke Ford

This is where my thoughts settle today. If college football is canceled today, I can get on board with it. These presidents and commissioners have access to way more information than I do, and if their information says "we just can't play", I'll accept it. The last thing I want to see is these players put in any type of danger. End of the day, I'm just a guy wanting football to happen, and with the internet I could use that "want" to find an article that would give me a path to that happening. And I could use that article as a weapon to come back and try to get what I want, but I'd still just be a guy with a Fine and Applied Arts degree thinking he solved epidemiology in an afternoon on the internet.

But I'd still feel awful for Luke Ford. He was tweeting last night with the "we want to play" hashtag movement, and it just breaks my heart. Doesn't get a waiver, has to sit out for an entire year, loses his grandfather in the offseason, is ready to dedicate the season to him, and now this. Dude just wants to play and encounters stop signs at every single turn.

Again, if those in charge see it as "we just can't protect Luke Ford", then I can accept it. They've been studying this for months and consulting the experts. Josh Whitman said on his Zoom press conference last week that he's been on calls with the other Big Ten AD's almost daily for months. Any decision they come to has months of debate behind it.

But still, I can't help but feel awful for Luke. What does he have to do to just go play football? If the next college football game is in 2021, he'll have gone nearly three years since he last caught a pass in a football game (9-1-2018 at Georgia). That's just an impossibly long time.

I guess this is the same across everything. Postponed weddings. Funerals done over Zoom. We're all taking a hit these days, and until this thing goes away, we'll keep taking hits.

But when it's finally conquered, man... Free Luke Ford.


IBFan on August 10, 2020 @ 10:28 AM

We can’t control the flu. We can’t control Covid-19. This has gotten to the point of absurdity. There is absolutely no way to keep the population “safe”, with no spread, no illnesses, no deaths. Even with a vaccine there are those that will choose not to. If the supposed goal is to have “zero” then that is a goal that will never be reached. Polio, measles, etc still have spikes. This pandemic has been weaponized and politicized by some which is just grotesque. As you said Robert about finding a narrative that fits your agenda and how you have enough common decency not to do it. I wish the best for all the students. Not sure if playing or not playing a sport is any worse than class, parties, rallies, protests, church. What I’m sure of is that the people making decisions are not concerned with what students want, they are concerned with CYA.

ClassOfDeeDeronJames on August 10, 2020 @ 05:20 PM

No one said the supposed goal is zero. For the last two weeks, we are averaging 1000 Americans dead every day from Covid. 159,000 and counting. And you are correct that we have lost control at this point. That doesn't mean we shrug and things go back to normal because we can't control it. If there are actions that can be taken that can save lives, then you do that. Football is not a priority, despite all of us being on this website.

IBFan on August 10, 2020 @ 07:55 PM

Missed my point. People in control want “zero” because of the liability and the politicness of the issue, which is unattainable. In no way am I saying don’t mitigate or lesson exposure. I am quite the opposite especially since I’ve already lost a family friend, an uncle, and am in the high risk category. The “wants” of any of us, students and athletes as well, are not the concern of risk management personnel.

Dickbupkis on August 11, 2020 @ 03:51 PM

Literally no one has said that.

Hoppy on August 12, 2020 @ 03:19 AM

Those death numbers are actually better (if death numbers can ever truly be considered “better”) than the April a lot. The amount of cases has peaked at about twice as many than in April yet deaths are at about 1/3 what they were in April.

We can’t lose control of this thing because we can’t gain control. It’s a virus. It doesn’t care if we mask up or shelter in place. Out here in California, we were one of the first states to implement stay at home orders and mask requirements. We were also one of the last to ease up restrictions on restaurants, shopping malls...etc and now we are one of the hardest hits states. (Same with Louisiana apparently)

Point’s not worth shuttering the economy/people’s lives. (Which includes college players who’d like to play football) The virus will do what it’s going to do so we might as well find ways to work/go to school/play sports knowing it’s around as opposed to waiting for a vaccine that may take months or years and may never be wholly effective.

bkenny on August 10, 2020 @ 07:08 PM

Everything you typed could be said about gun control too. Can’t get to zero, so do nothing.

You’re right that “we” can’t control Covid-19, because we’re America. Other countries have been able to though - of course, that’s “they”, not “we”.

MinnIllini on August 10, 2020 @ 09:25 PM

This was poetry. Thank you. Also thanks to Robert for explaining that “wear your masks if you want football” is a fallacy. As he points out the decisions being made are indicating no football until a vaccine or herd immunity is reached. Sadly, I don’t expect a Basketball season either.

escot on August 10, 2020 @ 10:53 AM

I don't think we need a vaccine to play college sports. We just need to get new infections per capita way down, at which point rapid testing + contact tracing become much more feasible and effective.

Bear8287 on August 10, 2020 @ 11:22 AM

Big Ten reportedly voted 12-2 to cancel football season

Scott on August 10, 2020 @ 01:00 PM

I really hope the final vote doesn't go this way. I personally believe having a fall season is the best way to keep them safe. They will be exposed whether there is a seaon or not, but if there is a fall season, they will be tested daily. They will get the best care immediately. They will have the incentive of games to play so they hopefully won't go to hot spots. (bars, parties, traveling home). Cancelling the season will not eliminate their exposure or their risk. (I love BheBhe's tweet.) It just allows the ADs to wash their hands of the situation when the student/athletes are exposed and infected.

mrmill on August 10, 2020 @ 09:39 PM

The “players are safer playing than not“ has officially replaced “we have more cases because we are doing more tests“ as the stupidest argument possible.

I’m in favor of figuring out how they can make this work, but jeez - there are some really dumb points being made by people during all of this.

orangejulius on August 10, 2020 @ 11:42 PM

It's stupid and demeaning to the athletes, and possibly racist, because it suggests that the athletes (who are primarily black) aren't mature/smart enough to take care of themselves, i.e. socially distance and wear masks. So they're safer being in the custody of their mostly white coaches (Illinois of course is the exception here).

Scott on August 11, 2020 @ 09:03 AM

I always find it interesting when people choose to find racism in a situation. I simply made a statement that the incentive of games and a season would hopefully encourage the players to make better decisions about exposure. I made no reference to being safe "in the custody of their mostly white coaches". It is obviously on the minds of college players as several around the country have already been quoted as having made pacts with their fellow players to stay away from bars and parties to help keep their seasons alive.

IlliniBobLoblaw on August 11, 2020 @ 10:30 AM

I found this NCAA diversity database that shows that in 2019 46% of FBS football athletes were Black, 37% were White, and 17% were "other". These numbers are self-reported by the schools and presumably(?) by the athletes themselves.

Scott on August 11, 2020 @ 08:57 AM

Hoppy on August 12, 2020 @ 03:34 AM


The cases have more than doubled in this most recent “outbreak.” (Twice as many as the April outbreak) Yet, the deaths did not also double during this time period.

Not only did they not double, they didn’t even reach the April numbers...they haven’t even reached half the April numbers. They are currently about 1/3 the April numbers and starting to level off again. (Though they may eventually reach half, we shall see)”

So how could that be? The virus didn’t randomly decide to only start attacking healthy people that would recover. But somehow there are more cases and less deaths.

Some of it probably has to do with better awareness and maybe vulnerable people staying away from folks...but I’d submit a big chunk is due to the proliferation of tests.

Why is it so far fetched that if we have more tests, more positives will show up? Some of the testing centers out here in California take hours of waiting in line behind hundreds of folks to get a test done. And I bet the majority of those folks that do test positive, end up a-okay.

So yes, I’d submit the availability of testing would definitely factor into an increase of cases. It’s not the only factor, but a major one none-the-less.

Scott on August 11, 2020 @ 09:07 AM

The University of Illinois has already stated that they hope to test the general student population twice a week, where as the student athletes will be testing daily during workouts and season. Earlier diagnosis allows for quicker isolation from others and earlier monitoring/treatment. Explain to me how this is not a safer scenario.

Lanta on August 10, 2020 @ 01:02 PM

uofi08 on August 10, 2020 @ 04:43 PM

Going to be a really interesting next couple of days. Will the Big Ten presidents follow through on their decision? Lots of coaches and programs, even some ADs, joining The players in wanting to play. I think the Big Ten still wants to cancel but will delay the announcement hoping to get at least 1 more conference on board. I don’t see the SEC, ACC, or Big 12 canceling anytime soon.

Dickbupkis on August 11, 2020 @ 03:50 PM

Not playing is hard to swallow, especially this year, but it’s the right decision.

Bear8287 on August 11, 2020 @ 04:28 PM

Bear8287 on August 11, 2020 @ 04:31 PM

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced the postponement of the 2020-21 fall sports season, including all regular-season contests and Big Ten Championships and Tournaments, due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speak Your Mind

Please login or register to post comments on the IlliniBoard.

Post Preview