It was the tale of one email in-box over two days.
On Tuesday, a release popped in from WVU football. It was a “Mountaineer Training Camp Report” It started with “West Virginia coach Neal Brown said Tuesday that he saw some improvement from his secondary during day two of his split-squad fall training camp.”
I shook my head sadly. I knew swirling around outside that in-box were reports – that later were confirmed – the Big Ten and Pac-12 were not playing football in the fall.
It was a gut punch to college football fans. And if one more Power 5 conference joined the two conferences, the season would seriously be lacking credibility – if it were played at all.
But then, throughout Tuesday evening, reports started trickling in. The SEC and ACC would be moving forward with playing.
Everyone knew the players wish to play. It was obvious via their #WeWantToPlay movement started by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Finally, the white smoke appeared from Irving, Texas: The Big 12 is also moving forward. Reports hit Twitter. I pitched in that WVU president E. Gordon Gee was among those to vote yes.
Then came official word in that beautiful in-box at 11:32 a.m. Wednesday: Big 12 to Continue Fall Sports. The Board of Directors – of which Gee is on – gave the thumbs up.
“The Board continues to believe that the health and well-being of our student-athletes must guide all decisions,” said Chairman and TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini in the release. “To that end the Board has consistently relied on the advice and counsel of top medical experts to determine the viability of available options. Our student-athletes want to compete, and it is the Board’s collective opinion that sports can be conducted safely and in concert with the best interests of their well-being. We remain vigilant in monitoring the trends and effects of COVID-19 as we learn more about the virus. If at any point our scientists and doctors conclude that our institutions cannot provide a safe and appropriate environment for our participants, we will change course.”
That last part is important, of course. While the news for Big 12 fans is upbeat for the moment, there are sure to be setbacks, outbreaks. How the SEC, ACC and Big 12 react to those will be key.
If you’ve closely followed, by the way, you’ve seen many sidebars to the issue of college football viability. One that raised eyebrows was when Nebraska football coach Scott Frost basically said the Cornhuskers might go rogue if the Big Ten canceled the football season. That would be difficult because of conferences’ grant-of-rights contracts. Also, first-year Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren was asked if Nebraska could jump to, say, the Big 12 for a year. “No,” he replied. “Not and be a member of the Big Ten.”
It was an interesting thought though. Same with how players will be treated if they’d like to jump from a non-playing to a playing program. Can you imagine Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields playing for Neal Brown at West Virginia? Surely, many players, especially older ones, will try and transfer.
Having the Big Ten and Pac-12 sit out could be an absolute boon for the other three Power 5 conferences, let alone the other leagues like Conference USA, American Athletic, etc.
In the end, though, it seems the decisions from the leagues sitting out were made in the names of health and liability.
The most pressing issue, at least in my mind, was the news floated that myocarditis, a condition defined as inflammation of the heart muscles had cropped up for at least five Big Ten student-athletes who had tested positive for Covid-19.
That valid concern, however, can be addressed with mandatory cardiac screenings for those athletes that test positive with the virus. Dr. Matthew Martinez told SI.com a three-level screening should be done before athletes return to action: an EKG, an echocardiogram and a troponin test, which measures cardiac-specific troponin to help detect heart injury.
Makes sense, right? Power 5 members can foot the bill for such tests.
I guess we’ll see. For WVU and Big 12 fans, anyway, there was reason to raise a glass on Wednesday.
Especially when this last piece to the puzzle hit that in-box:
2020 Football Schedule
Day Date Opponent Time
Sat. Sept. 12 Eastern Kentucky TBA
Sat. Sept. 19 OPEN
Sat. Sept. 26 at Oklahoma State * TBA
Sat. Oct. 3 Baylor * TBA
Sat. Oct. 10 OPEN
Sat. Oct. 17 Kansas * TBA
Sat. Oct. 24 at Texas Tech * TBA
Sat. Oct. 31 Kansas State * TBA
Sat. Nov. 7 at Texas * TBA
Sat. Nov. 14 TCU * TBA
Sat. Nov. 21 OPEN
Sat. Nov. 28 Oklahoma* TBA
Sat. Dec. 5 at Iowa State * TBA
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.