Though many college football programs have managed to forge ahead with their seasons, one of the best from a Power 5 conference is putting the brakes on for now.
Notre Dame announced it is canceling its ACC game this Saturday against Wake Forest after seven more players tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
A total of 13 players have been isolated, with 10 in quarantine. Notre Dame was missing players last weekend yet still managed a 52-0 victory over South Florida. There is no word from South Florida’s team yet on whether its players will be affected heading into this week.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly tried to put a positive spin on the latest development as 99.1% of all of the tests they’ve conducted have come back negative.
“We managed an increase in positivity rates in August, and the players handled it wonderfully,” Kelly said. “We knew COVID would present challenges throughout the season, and we’ll always put student-athlete health and safety at the forefront of our decision making. We look forward to resuming team activities and getting back on the playing field.”
But could this be a sign of things to come? The Pac-12 is one of the conferences in the Power 5 that has taken a wait-and-see approach before starting its season, fearing outbreaks among its teams. The Big Ten initially took the same stance before relenting last week and is slated to start in mid-October.
Still, the threat of COVID-19 hasn’t done much to stop other Power 5 conference teams from playing, other than Baylor postponing a Big 12 game against Houston last weekend.
- Florida State’s head coach Mike Norvell tested positive for the virus and he is isolating from his team, yet the team played last week and is scheduled to face Miami this weekend.
- Nearly every member of LSU’s defending national championship team tested positive at one point during the preseason, according to coach Ed Orgeron but the Tigers are on track to host Mississippi State on Saturday
- Texas Tech has had 75 players and five staff members test positive for COVID-19 since June. But it had none after its game last weekend and it is ready to go against rival Texas on Saturday.
- Mississippi too had bunches of players early on contract the virus but has since gotten healthy and they will play Florida this weekend.
Many colleges are reporting similar good news – no positive cases – like Boston College did this week after its game with Duke, and schedules surprisingly haven’t been tested too much in the first three weeks.
In fact, less than 20 games have been canceled, including two in Conference USA last weekend – Florida Atlantic vs. Georgia Southern (after FAU reported nearly a dozen positive cases) and Memphis’ game vs. Houston. Memphis also has postponed its next contest, citing coronavirus concerns though it is not releasing COVID-19 data.
How are schools able to play on? Aside from social distancing measures during practices and other mitigration strategies, one theory might be all the testing happening and the subsequent isolation of players and staff.
In the Power 5 conferences, the ACC, SEC and Big 12 are all testing players three times per week. Though Big Ten hasn’t officially kicked off, it has been testing players daily in anticipation of starting back up in late October.
Two other conferences are considering a return to play – the Mountain West, which announced on Tuesday it is kicking around a potential start date of Oct. 24 for an eight-game season, and the Mid-American Conference, which is likely to make a decision on playing early next week.
Chris Burt is a reporter and editor for University Business. He can be reached at [email protected]