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College football: As decision day looms for 2020 season, OU, OSU, TU players throw their support behind playing

College football: As decision day looms for 2020 season, OU, OSU, TU players throw their support behind playing

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BOB BOWLSBY

For Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and other Big 12 leadership figures, there is the desire to have a 2020 football season and the responsibility of proceeding with an extreme consideration for the well-being of athletes and coaches. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file

The summer began with one major question for college football fans.

Would there be a 2020 season?

As days and weeks passed, there was never a clear-cut answer as administrators appeared to wait on clues for safely proceeding while battling Covid-19 concerns.

With the calendar flipping to August, it is decision-making time for conference commissioners, presidents, chancellors and athletic directors.

Late on Monday afternoon, Brett McMurphy from Stadium reported that the Mountain West Conference and its 12 member schools will cancel football this fall but will consider playing football in the spring. Earlier in the day, Old Dominion from Conference USA announced it would not play football, joining UConn (an independent) in not playing this fall. 

The Mid-American Conference announced on Saturday the cancellation of the fall football season, following the lead of lower-division FCS schools. A total of 26 FBS schools have opted not to play this fall. 

A whirlwind weekend concluded with rumors ranging from the wild (an ACC-SEC-Big 12 merger?) to the believable (Big Ten and Pac-12 canceling due to pandemic). 

On Tuesday, there will be a Big 12 teleconference between presidents and chancellors to discuss how the league will move forward. According to Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News, the league’s athletic directors and medical consultants will also be on the call.

There’s also been an uprising of players using the hashtag “WeWantToPlay. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, one of the sports most recognized players, posted guidelines via social media at 12:01 a.m. Monday including universal mandated health and safety procedures to protect college athletes against Covid-19. There also was reference to the creation of a college football players association.

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard was reportedly on a Zoom call with star players from other Power 5 conferences. The 30-minute call resulted in the points listed by Lawrence.

Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith agrees with Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields, another fellow quarterback who helped spark the movement.

“I completely agree with them. I think whatever they were saying is true,” Smith said following a Monday morning practice. “As far as for me and speaking for my teammates, we all feel the same way. We trust the medical staff here to keep us safe. As long as we’re playing football, I know we’re definitely going to abide by all the guidelines and safety procedures that come along with playing. So I agree with them a hundred percent. I’m just kind of in the dark right now about what’s happening.”

TU offensive lineman Chris Paul feels the same way.

“So the slogan #WeWantToPlay is the slogan that’s 100 percent relative. Like I mentioned a while back you have a lot of football players who want to play, especially your seniors where it’s their last season,” Paul said. “And you have that sort of uncertainty layer when it comes to NCAA eligibility in terms of opting out and what that looks like. And you also have a lot of players with a lot of concerns who are concerned for their health. There is a disparity between what certain schools can do based on their financial situations.

“So the #WeWantToPlay slogan is 100 percent relative and based on that individual athlete’s situation and their institution’s situation.”

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler immediately adopted the hashtag on his Twitter account. Later Monday, he declared his craving for a 2020 football season.

The Sooners have held five practices since July 31, but over the weekend released the players to return home given the uncertainty of a start date to the 2020 season. One player is under quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19. Up until that point, the school had four weeks of virus-free tests.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was scheduled to have a Monday media availability, but the school announced all interviews with coaches and players have been postponed.

Until a decision is made, there will continue to be points and counterpoints.

Etan Thomas, a former NBA player and motivational speaker who graduated from Booker T. Washington, tweeted a response to a link saying the Big Ten will cancel football season.

“Institutions of higher learning having the moral courage to do what’s right is definitely the road less traveled. Hopefully, more conferences will follow suit in valuing the safety & lives of collegiate athletes over economic motivations. Shut it all down”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is trying to move things in a different direction and used Twitter to make his thoughts known.

“Play College Football!”


Big 12 announces 2020 football scheduling plan


2020 Big 12 Football Media Preseason Poll

Eric Bailey

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eric.bailey@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @ericbaileyTW

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