COVID-19 Update For Every 2020 Notre Dame Football Opponent
As more and more players head back to campus, the number of COVID-19 positives is beginning to dominate the college football news cycle.
Ten days ago, Notre Dame announced that one student-athlete out of 91 players and 50 members of the football staff tested positive for COVID-19. The university said in a statement that the player was asymptomatic, quarantined from the rest of the program and his parents were notified. Additionally, four other members of the program had COVID-19 antibodies.
To my knowledge, the team hasn’t been tested again, but if the number increases from one to 20 or more in a manner of weeks, it could spell doom and gloom for the upcoming season (assuming the university doesn’t throw caution to the wind like a different college football program appears to be doing).
For the 2020 season to proceed as currently scheduled, it will take a lot more than Notre Dame keeping its players safe.
Every opponent this fall must do the same. Otherwise, chaos will ensue.
Below is a COVID-19 update for every team on the Fighting Irish schedule. Some programs have yet to return to campus, while others have widespread outbreaks.
Navy — Sept. 5
The first bit of significant COVID-19 related news came when Navy announced that the annual matchup with Notre Dame would move from Dublin, Ireland, to Annapolis, Md., for the first time since the 1920s. The schools also pushed back the date of the game from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5 or 6 to give both teams additional time to prepare.
Navy is taking full advantage of this extra week by scheduling their offseason workouts much later than the majority of the county. According to the Capital Gazette, players will report on July 5, but instead of immediately starting voluntary workouts, the Midshipmen will quarantine for two weeks and then begin football-related activities on July 21, with actual practices likely beginning in August.
It is unclear if Navy will release testing information once players return next week.
Arkansas — Sept. 12
Since the Razorbacks reported back to campus at the beginning of June, the football program has undergone at least two rounds of testing.
On June 4, the university announced that one football player had tested positive.
“As I shared previously, we knew it was not a matter of if, but rather when a Razorback student-athlete would be confirmed positive,” Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “With respect for privacy, we do not plan on announcing or detailing each case as it may arise.”
A little more than two weeks later on June 23, Otis Kirk of Hogville.net reported that the number of Arkansas players to test positive had increased to five (it appears the university has yet to confirm this).
In related news, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson recently said there will not be college or high school football in the state this fall if people do not wear masks.
Western Michigan — Sept. 19
The Western Michigan football team recently returned to campus and reportedly began workouts on Wednesday, July 1.
In potentially related news, the program changed its 2020 season opener and will now play Stony Brook instead of Colgate.
Wake Forest — Sept. 26
Last week, Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson announced that he would be isolating himself from his wife Catherine Clawson, a cancer survivor, for the season starting with training camp on July 12.
“We’ve been conservative bringing people back, but then you look at the amount of cases that are popping up at campuses across the country,” Clawson said on Tuesday during an appearance on the Jim Rome Show. “I couldn’t imagine the anxiety of being around my football team, finding out that some of them had tested positive, wondering if I had been near them in the past week and then fearing that when I got home at night I had passed it on to my wife who is at risk.”
Clawson said his players will be tested within the next week and the real challenge will be to keep them “COVID-free” throughout the summer and fall.
Demon Deacon players will not be asked to sign a COVID-19 wavier and those who do not feel comfortable playing this season will retain their scholarship.
Wisconsin — Oct. 3
On June 23, Wisconsin released a statement notifying the media that two out of 117 student-athletes tested for COVID-19 received a positive diagnosis. It’s believed that this pool of athletes included members of the university’s football and volleyball teams, which were allowed to return to campus on June 8 and begin workouts on June 15.
The Badgers plan to release an aggregation of future COVID-19 test results to protect player anonymity.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, 100 of 123 football players participated in the first day of voluntary workouts.
Stanford — Oct. 10
In a statement, Stanford announced that student-athletes, coaches and staff were allowed to return to campus on Wednesday, following “rigorous COVID-19 protocols designed by medical professionals.”
Students will be tested upon arrival and will not lose their athletic scholarships if they choose not to play.
Pittsburgh — Oct. 17
This one is short and simple. The Pittsburgh football team returned to campus on June 8 and the program will not release COVID-19 results.
Bit of news: Pitt football does not plan on announcing any potential positive COVID-19 tests, according to a team spokesperson.— John McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) June 28, 2020
Duke — Oct. 31
“The school also announced the plan for its student-athletes to return to campus, beginning with football players on July 12,” according to the News & Observer.
Clemson — Nov. 7
Clemson football players returned to campus as early as the NCAA would allow on June 1 and were told to self-isolate for seven days, according to The Athletic. One-hundred four players were then tested, which resulted in just two positive cases.
Over the course of the next two weeks, even after “daily health checks,” 35 more players would test positive and the coaching staff has yet to suspend team workouts. Now some in the college football world are speculating that the Tigers and other major programs hope their players contract the virus.
“I was thinking the other day about what was going on with the SEC teams down south and Clemson included, which is obviously an ACC team,” said NFL analyst Boomer Esiason while on his Boomer and Gio show on WFAN. “A lot of their players are coming down with COVID-19, oddly enough. Are they trying to ‘herd immunity’ their teams so these guys can get sick now as opposed to getting sick during the college football season, if in fact, there is one?
“And I’m telling you right now, I wouldn’t put it past any of those guys down there.”
I would go as far as to agree with Boomer, but Clemson’s overall number of positive cases is a discouraging sign for the upcoming season.
Georgia Tech — Nov. 14
It doesn’t appear that testing results for the Georgia Tech football program have been released. The university decided to bring its student-athletes back to campus in waves. On June 15, students with off-campus housing in the Atlanta area were eligible to return.
Louisville — Nov. 21
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, multiple waves of the Cardinals’ football program returned in June for involuntary workouts. I have yet to find any indication that members of the team tested positive.
USC — Nov. 28
On June 26, the Los Angeles Times reported that one of the 69 USC student-athletes tested for COVID-19 yielded a positive result. Fifty-six of those tested were football players, but the university did not disclose which sport the athlete played.
While this is a good sign for the Trojans’ season, some potentially bad news came from the university on Wednesday.
“As Los Angeles and the rest of California continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases, the University of Southern California is telling its undergraduates to prepare for a virtual semester this fall. That could be a major domino for college football and its season,” wrote Yahoo Sports Jack Baer.
Even if most students aren’t allowed on campus this fall, USC could still play out its football season, but that seems counterintuitive to what many college football athletic directors, including Jack Swarbrick, have said up until this point.
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