College football leaders setting terrible example for players
The argument against college football was simple: How can you ask college football players not to act like college kids?
How can you expect them not to socialize? Not to attend parties? Go to bars?
Turns out, the bigger question was, how can we get adults to act their age?
Because as this precarious season that is being held together by duct tape, papier-mâché and nothing more than hope moves forward, the adults aren’t setting the proper examples. Like the expression, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Too many coaches aren’t wearing masks on the sideline for the duration of their games. Notre Dame president, Rev. John Jenkins, contracted the virus after being seen without a mask at a White House event. Georgia seemed to have more than the announced crowd of 20,524 on hand for its win over Auburn on Saturday night based on photos and video. Those in attendance sure weren’t following SEC guidelines that required face coverings and social distancing. At first glance, it seemed like a game from past years, pre-COVID-19.
If the people in charge can’t act responsibly, how can we expect to hold the players to a higher standard? Even worse, so far there haven’t been any public repercussions outside of social media shame and a few memos encouraging more responsible behavior. If the NFL can fine coaches for not wearing masks, as it has been doing, college coaches can at least face similar discipline.
Hopefully the SEC does something — anything — to Georgia. The rest of the conference has to know it can’t follow the Bulldogs’ irresponsible lead.
Imagine if you were a player. You hear about how important it is to avoid large crowds, to not attend parties, then you show up on Saturday and see the stadium full of fans sans masks in close quarters. I would be asking myself: Why am I being forced to adhere to such strict rules when my classmates aren’t, when the powers-that-be at my school aren’t following and enforcing the rules? The same goes for Notre Dame players, for the student-athletes at the schools where the coaches can’t keep a simple cloth over their face for an entire game.
That’s not to say there aren’t some in charge acting responsibly. SMU’s entire student section was booted from its game on Saturday for not wearing masks and socially distancing properly. There are plenty of coaches who are following mask mandates. But this has to happen across the board.
Already, 22 games have been postponed. More will follow. The Big Ten and Pac-12 haven’t even begun yet.
If we want to finish this season, get to a playoff, it’s time the people in charge start acting their ages. Otherwise, we’re bound to see more and more players acting theirs.
In a year like none ever, with conferences starting at different times, games getting postponed, star players opting out, there is some normalcy: Alabama and Clemson look like the two best teams in the country. Ohio State, once its season begins in three weeks, will likely join them.
In other words, last year was a blip, when LSU came out of nowhere to win it all, dethroning Alabama and Clemson atop the sport.
But the two traditional juggernauts appear back. Alabama demolished perennially overrated Texas A&M, 52-24, on Saturday, as Mac Jones continued to look up to the job of replacing Tua Tagovailoa, and the Crimson Tide looks to be improved up front and on defense. Clemson, off to a 3-0 start with blowouts of Wake Forest and Virginia, could get tested more on Saturday by undefeated Miami and later on in the year Notre Dame.
But at the moment, it would be foolish to pick against either team winning their respective conference. In this bizarre year, that feels strangely comforting.
There isn’t a better story in college football than Stetson Bennett. He arrived at Georgia in 2017 as a walk-on. He then went to junior college in 2018 to get a chance to play, returned to Georgia the following year on scholarship and was No. 5 on the depth chart in the spring, behind big-name transfers Jamie Newman (Wake Forest) and JT Daniels (USC).
Newman opted out due to COVID-19 fears and Daniels was just recently cleared from a major knee injury that cost him most of last year.
Now, Bennett, a Blackshear, Ga. native, is “The guy,” coach Kirby Smart said after he led the Bulldogs past seventh-ranked Auburn, 27-6, completing 17 of 28 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.
Bennett, nicknamed “Mailman” because of a postman’s hat he wore at recruiting camps, rallied No. 4 Georgia in its opener, replacing an ineffective D’Wan Mathis and now it looks like his team. He’s delivered so far.
1. Ohio State (0-0) (Last week: 1)
Let’s just say it doesn’t feel like an accident that Nebraska has to open at Ohio State after the Cornhuskers publicly criticized the Big Ten’s initial decision to cancel the fall season.
2. Clemson (3-0) (2)
This is how much better Clemson is than the rest of the ACC: Virginia acquitted itself well and still lost by three scores.
3. Alabama (2-0) (3)
The new Wide Receiver U. After producing first-round picks Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III last year, Alabama has a new dynamic trio of Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith and John Metchie III.
4. Florida (2-0) (4)
The Gators don’t play Alabama and get Georgia and LSU at home. A throwback season in Gainesville is upon us.
5. Georgia (2-0) (6)
Either Auburn was overrated or Georgia is better than some of us — yours truly included — thought. It’s probably a little of both. Saturday’s 27-6 shellacking wasn’t even as close as the score indicated.
6. Penn State (0-0) (7)
There won’t be much time to build up hype for the game of the year in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions’ second game, on Halloween, will be hosting Ohio State.
7. Notre Dame (2-0) (9)
Hopefully, Notre Dame’s players show more responsibility than their president, Rev. John Jenkins, who tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a White House event where he was seen without a mask.
8. Miami (3-0) (10)
The Hurricanes have been impressive, winning all three of their games over UAB, Louisville and Florida State in convincing fashion. But now comes a trip to Clemson. That’s like going from Rookie to All-Madden in the Madden video game.
9. North Carolina (2-0) (NR)
After leading the Tar Heels to their first bowl game in three years last season, Mack Brown has them 2-0 with several winnable games coming up. Thoughts, Texas?
10. Cincinnati (3-0) (NR)
With UCF and Memphis losing, Cincinnati represents the AAC’s greatest hope at the playoff, as much of a long shot as it is.
Dropped out: Auburn (1-1) and Texas (2-1)
Heisman Watch (in alphabetical order)
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Just a reminder of how ridiculously good Fields was in his first year at Ohio State, throwing 41 touchdown passes, just three interceptions and running for 10 scores while completing 67.2 percent of his passes.
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
Last year’s rushing leader had his best game of the early season on Saturday, running for 145 yards and two scores in a blowout of Kansas.
QB D’Eriq King, Miami
Prime time in Death Valley against Trevor Lawrence and Clemson. Perfect chance for King to make a statement to voters.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Jets and Giants fans are suddenly into Clemson. They saw Saturday night what all the fuss was about, as Lawrence continued his strong start by completing 25 of 38 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns in a rout of Virginia.
QB Kyle Trask, Florida
Trask is already drawing Joe Burrow comparisons after throwing for 684 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first two games.
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