College Football Tackles COVID-19

Jonathan Liu, Reporter

2020 has been known for its unpredictability, and the return of College Football has definitely fit that narrative. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic carried into the fall, the college football season was in jeopardy. 

As the time was nearing to when the season usually starts, there was no traction on when the games would start to be played. 

Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a potential number one overall pick in the next NFL Draft, was a leading voice in the movement to start the games. 

He tweeted, “People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play…Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people. We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football.”

 Other players such as standout quarterback Justin Fields from Ohio State and Kedan Slovis from USC pushed the movement to play, which was enough for the season to kick off. 

After the season reported on track to return, major D1 football programs held voluntary workouts starting over the summer on June 1. 

As days progressed, reports told fans that many players had been infected with COVID-19 such as the reigning National Champion LSU Tigers (30 cases, Clemson University (23 cases), and the University of Houston (six cases).

 While kick-off was near, colleges were reporting players that decided to opt out of the season. The University of Central Florida reported 10 players had opted out, along with both South Florida and South Carolina with seven opting out. 

Programs with major success last season such as the reigning Rose Bowl Champions, Oregon Ducks and the reigning national champion LSU Tigers, reported opt outs highlighted by offensive tackle Penei Sewell (Oregon) and wide receiver Ja’marr Chase (LSU), who caught nine passes for over 200 yards and two touchdowns in the 2020 National Championship. 

After a summer of anticipation, the College Football Season kicked off. 

Week one started on September 3, with 11 scheduled games and two games having to be postponed due to COVID-19 positive tests. 

A big question coming into the season was if fans were going to be in the stands. 

The answer was yes for many schools as programs such as Clemson, Notre Dame, Miami, Oklahoma were allowing fans at their games but with a reduced capacity limit.

 “From my experience, college football fans can be a little more energetic compared to other fans and I am not very surprised by the amount of fans at stadiums. As a fan I would be pleased to attend a game,” senior Chance Lee said.

As the season was continuing, there were back-to-back weeks with at least five games being cancelled or postponed. 

In week three, there were six including a game scheduled between 21st ranked BYU and 22nd ranked Army. 

In week four, there were a total of five games being postponed. In week 11, there were 15 games being either postponed or cancelled as well, which was by far the most in a week leading up to that point. 

Throughout the weeks, there were a few notable positive cases from marquee names throughout the college landscape. 

One notable name was Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence who tested positive before week nine of the season and legendary Alabama Head Coach, Nick Saban, who also tested positive for COVID-19 during the season. 

Aside from the COVID-19 cases and postponed games, a marquee matchup between first ranked Clemson and fourth ranked Notre Dame brought fans to life. 

Notre Dame did end up winning the game in double overtime 47-40 at home which then sparked some online madness as after the victory, 11,000 Notre Dame fans rushed onto the field.

“I watched that exciting double OT game between ND and Clemson and although I can absolutely understand the excitement felt by the students for this victory, but it was irresponsible of the university to allow them to storm the field.  Many were wearing masks but the crowd certainly wasn’t following protocol,” science teacher Julie Maemoto said.

As the season continues with COVID-19 numbers spiking across the country, college football is going to have to work through a hurdle of cancelled and postponed games to get to conference championships. 

Eventually teams will also get to the national championship, to show the country who the best college football team was this year despite all COVID-19 hardships.