Nittany Lions put hold on contact drills
For those hoping to see a college football season, this past weekend produced another ominous message.
At the recommendation of the Big Ten presidents on Saturday morning, contact drills for football teams were put on hold indefinitely due to ongoing concerns about the coronavirus.
Teams must remain in the “acclimation period” of practice until further notice.
The league statement left open the possibility the season, set to begin the weekend of Sept. 5, could also be canceled or perhaps postponed until the spring. It read:
“We understand there are many questions regarding how this impacts schedules, as well as the feasibility of proceeding forward with the season at all. As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes.”
Penn State started its fall camp a day earlier. Several national media outlets, citing anonymous sources, called the postponement of the fall season “inevitable.”
The Mid-American Conference called off its season on Saturday morning, following the lead of NCAA Division II and Division III programs. The University of Connecticut announced Friday that it would not play football this season.
Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour has maintained throughout the summer that the Nittany Lions would play only if they could do so safely.
Since athletes returned to the campus in June, only eight of 466 have tested positive (and were subsequently quarantined).
Tenured Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, the Badgers’ former head coach, told Yahoo Sports he’s “afraid” and “very concerned” about the prospects of a season.
“There are so many questions that are unanswered,” saod Alvarez, who has a grandson on the Wisconsin team.
In what seemed to be a coordinated effort, Penn State’s players began tweeting Saturday night under the hashtag of #Iwanttoplay.
Standout tight end Pat Freiermuth tweeted, “Since day one coming back to campus, the Penn State football staff and medical experts have put our health and safety first, above anything else. The guidelines put into place keep us safe while playing the game we love. We are ready to play and we want to play.”
Defensive tackle PJ Mustipher tweeted, “Through the noise and the uncertainty, everyone in this program has worked day in and day out since we arrived back on campus in early June. We will continue preparing under proper guidelines for the upcoming season hopeful that the Big Ten will allow us to play.”
Others expressed similar messages. The Penn State football website showed a video of defensive back Jonathan Sutherland going through stretch drills Sunday, wearing a mask and no pads, saying, “It’s good to be back. Let’s ball. Beautiful day. Let’s get it going.”
All the videos and pictures from Penn State’s practices these last few days have shown the coaches and players wearing masks.
The Detroit Free Press reported Saturday new Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren favors moving the season to the spring.
Penn State announced Thursday if a season is played, it will be without fans at Beaver Stadium.
The same day, All-American linebacker Micah Parsons confirmed his intentions to bypass the season and declared for the NFL Draft, joining dozens of other college standouts to follow the same path.