The 2020 college football season appears to be collapsing — although not yet completely, as Miami’s Atlantic Coast Conference could be a holdout.
And some of the nation’s highest profile players, including Miami quarterback D’Eriq King and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, are uniting and speaking out loudly on social media in an attempt to ultimately organize as an association/players union and keep the season alive.
Amid national reports that top-level Power 5 conference officials are meeting individually again this week with the intention of canceling fall college sports and possibly postponing at the earliest to the spring of 2021 because of COVID-19, players are turning to #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited as their trending hashtag.
The Dan Patrick Show reported Monday that the Big Ten and Pac-12 will announce Tuesday that their seasons are canceled and that “12 of the 14 Presidents from the Big 10 have voted against having a Fall College Football season.” Later Monday, the Detroit Free Press cited “multiple people with knowledge of the decision” confirming that the Big Ten had indeed canceled the 2020 fooball season.
However, at 11 p.m. Monday, ESPN.com reported that Big Ten presidents would meet Tuesday morning to continue discussing the issue, and that the league might choose to play a bit later than what was originally expected.
On Monday evening, Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated reported that ACC athletic directors met earlier in the day and “are moving forward in an attempt to play,’’ according to a staffer. Forde added that the ACC presidents, which include UM’s Julio Frenk, “could be meeting’’ Monday as well. The presidents and chancellors have the ultimate say in the future of the season.
Frenk, the former Minister of Health in Mexico, told the Miami Herald last week that UM players “have demonstrated great discipline since returning to campus for training in June’’ and if they “follow the protocols we have in place, the Hurricanes will have a successful season both on and off the field.’’
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that as of Monday morning, Louisville football coach David Satterfield said he was told the ACC will continue to play no matter what other conferences decide. UM is scheduled to play at Louisville on Sept. 19 in the second game of the season.
“That’s what we will do until we hear otherwise,” Satterfield reportedly said.
But if one major conference cancels, it seems almost inevitable that others will follow.
Of course by the time you read this, another change could have occurred.
Trump weighs in
Even Donald Trump gave his perspective.
“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be canceled,’’ the President posted Monday afternoon on Twitter. “#WeWantToPlay”
The FBS already has seen Connecticut (American Athletic Conference), Old Dominion (Conference USA) and the entire Mid-American conference cancel football for fall 2020. And Monday evening the Mountain West announced “the indefinite postponement” of all fall sports.
DP was told an hour ago that the Big 10 and Pac 12 will cancel their football seasons tomorrow... The ACC and the Big 12 are on the fence.. And the SEC is trying to get teams to join them for a season.— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) August 10, 2020
Watch live: https://t.co/sMaeXQkLfl pic.twitter.com/oSUNGMTEqw
The Power 5 conferences have been meeting as independent units and not as one unified group, making their announcements individually and using their own medical protocals, etc., to reach any decisions. Thus, the entire summer and preseason has emerged as especially confusing for college football fans and the sport itself.
On Thursday, Miami coach Manny Diaz was asked if UM is requiring players to sign waivers that would release UM from fault if anyone should get the coronavirus.
“No,’’ Diaz said.
Last week, Debbie Rucker, mother of Indiana freshman OL Brady Feeney, posted on Facebook about her son contracting COVID-19 and being very sick and now “dealing with possible heart issues!”
Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey tweeted Monday after about the “best advice” he’s received “since COVID-19: Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day.”
Sankey continued that “@SEC has been deliberate at each step since March...slowed return to practice...delayed 1st game to respect start of fall semester...’’
The SEC, which includes the Florida Gators, aren’t scheduled to begin play until Sept. 26, more than two weeks after UM is scheduled to open at home Sept. 10 against UAB.
Regarding the players uniting against any postponements or cancellations, a large black box frames the social media graphic being blasted. On top are the logos for the Power 5 conferences that dominate college sports: The Atlantic Coast Conference (UM’s league); Big Ten, Pac-12, Southeastern Conference and Big 12.
The potential players’ union idea, according to Yahoo Sports, breathed life through a Zoom meeting of 12 players that included quarterback Lawrence, Clemson running back Darien Rencher, Stanford defensive end Dylan Boles and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
“We all want to play football this season,’’ the post begins. Then: “Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college-athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.”
▪ “Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.’’
▪ “Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.’’
▪ “Use our voices to establish open communication & trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a college football players association.”
▪ “Representative of the players of all Power 5 conferences.”
At 12:14 a.m. Monday, King tweeted out those wishes/demands, less than 30 minutes after he tweeted #WeWantToPlay. Before both, he tweeted, “Yeah yeah let us play!”
As players across the nation began to retweet the #WeWantToPlay hashtag and voice support for a season, coaches from various programs followed suit, including Canes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, who retweeted King’s tweet of the all-encompassing graphic that delivered the news. Lashlee also retweeted tight end coach Stephen Fields who posted his own passionate tweet.
#WeWantToCoach suddenly became the newest hashtag among coaches.
“Our HC does things the RIGHT WAY and is always putting the players best interest first!!’’ Field posted. “I love this staff and team and the camaraderie we have! I love the guys in the TE room and enjoy being around them! They are truly part of my family. I support our players and their voices!!”
Penn State coach James Franklin also said he loved his players and believes “it is my responsibility to help them chase their dreams, both collectively & individually. I am willing to fight WITH them & for our program!”
Joining in from the Hurricanes was tight end and top NFL prospect Brevin Jordan, a junior who posted, “So much work has been put in. So much adversity has been overcome bc of the game we love. #WeWantToPlay”
Senior receiver Michael Harley wrote, “Bust My Ass This Off Season. #WeWantToPlay”
Defensive tackle Nesta Silvera declared that “We’re safer in school.’’ #WeWantToPlay”
So much work has been put in. So much adversity has been overcome bc of the game we love. #WeWantToPlay— B r e v i n J o r d a n (@Brevinjordan) August 10, 2020
One of the leaders of the movement appears to be Lawrence, who is scheduled to meet the Hurricanes in South Carolina on Oct. 10. After originally announcing UM’s 2020 schedule in January, because of coronavirus concerns, the ACC revised its schedule and released it last week.
UM has already had four training camp practices.
People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play. Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19 (1)— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 9, 2020
Hurricanes graduate transfer Quincy Roche, one of the top defensive ends in the nation who came to UM from Temple, posted, “Felt good to be back out there and banging...I feel completely comfortable with the protocol and the way things are going. #WeWantToPlay.’’