Who’s ready for reading time?!?
The NCAA has released their next phase of “Return to Sport” guidelines and there’s a lot to go through. I have some thoughts, so let’s get started.
When the NCAA decided to cancel its spring championships, it was because they had no plan in place to conduct them safely. Now that they have a better idea, albeit slightly, of what’s going on, they’ve come up with some ways to still conduct college athletics in a way that will (hopefully) not lead to more issues. And in working with the Power 5 conferences to put this together, the hope is that this will become a mandatory minimum standard for college athletics, especially in high-contact sports like football.
Among the most important details of the document are protocols for how long asymptomatic college football players who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate in-season (10 days), weekly testing in-season within 72 hours of competition, a universal masking policy and the criteria that would need to be met for a team to suspend or discontinue its season.
Let’s break this down a bit, shall we?
- Players who test positive will have to isolate for 10 days and until they’ve gone at least three days without symptoms. Those who have come in contact with the player will need to self-quarantine for 14 days. It must be 14 days if you’ve come into “high-risk contact” with the person, regardless of if they’ve tested negative. No discussion on this. So could that take out an entire position group for 2 weeks if someone — say Nick Bolton (please, god, no) — tests positive amongst the lineman? The whole team?
To keep an entire team from having to quarantine, the NCAA, Auerbach wrote, is encouraging that practices take place in “functional units” (essentially smaller groups of players) to limit cross-exposure. If a player in that unit tests positive, the thought is it’s easier to manage the contact tracing than if they are practicing altogether, but I think that’s easier to say than actually do.
COVID aside— if not everyone is practicing together, how well can a team actually function? When you’ve got a new coaching staff, like Missouri does, and a whole bunch of Baby Tigers, as Nate likes to call them, you need time to practice together. How can you put it all together and see how it works if you are just in “functional groups?” Is this all just a pipe dream, y’all? Because how on Earth are you going to play this sport without contact among pretty much everyone?
- Players will be tested within 72 hours of competition. What if there’s a testing back up? Are college athletes more important than the general public when it comes to faster results reporting? What if some schools don’t have an “in” with their university health centers that can get them the results back quickly? What happens if you take a test before you leave on a road trip and you don’t have the results back? What if you are at the opponent’s facility when you find out a cruel amount of players have tested positive? Do you forfeit?
- A universal masking policy. As for testing of staff and coaches, Ross Dellenger pointed out in his piece for Sports Illustrated that they are not required to be tested in the same way as athletes, but will be required to wear masks on the sidelines if they are not tested when their players are. Players will likely need to wear them when in strength workouts and such if social distancing is not possible, and I’ve gotta tell you, in case you haven’t tried it, completing strenuous work while wearing a mask is not ideal.
- What has to happen to constitute discontinuing a season? Well, here are few examples from the release that are of particular concern to ADs, as Dellenger noted in Thursday’s piece and was mentioned last week in SI.
- Campuswide or local community test rates that are considered unsafe by local public health officials.
- Local public health officials state that there is an inability for the hospital infrastructure to accommodate a surge in COVID-related hospitalizations.
- Also among the list of their recommendations: Member schools must adhere to public health standards set by their local communities.
In regards to #3... what if you live in a state where leaders just refuse to do what’s necessary and right to contain the virus? Some of the state governments currently shouting that they won’t mandate masks are from states in the almighty Southeastern Conference. So what happens then?
Y’all... I really want to believe that we are going to get it together, but man... I just don’t know... And if this talk wasn’t sobering enough, consider this statement from NCAA President Mark Emmert:
“Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”
On that note, on to the links and um... Happy Friday!
Yesterday at Rock M
- Nate the Great covered the newest Zoom chat with Eli Drinkwitz. Check it out!
- Nate was busy, also putting together a piece from SBNation Reacts (formerly Fan Pulse) on rivalries. (this post was actually put up on accident... stupid editor— that’s me)
- Coming up: BK’s got a piece for you about optimism in regards to the offense later this morning.
- KC Star: Souichi wrote about how Drinkwitz is focusing on the here and now, not the unknown. The SportsBeat KC Podcast with Blair Kerkhoff discussed the top pros from kU, KState & Mizzou, as well as their thoughts on what will happen with college football.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Matter was back with his weekly chat. Here’s the Q&A.
- Trumans Tales/Fansided: Rilee Stapleton revealed where he thought Mizzou would end up in the SEC East standings.
- PowerMizzou/Rivals): Gabe put together the second part of a two-part post of an All-Era Rivals Show Me team starting from its rankings inception in 2002, this time containing their their thoughts.
- The Athletic ($$): Ari Wasserman wrote that Mizzou commit Tyler Macon is this year’s CJ Stroud, which is dangerous for Mizzou.
- Saturday Down South: Michael Wayne Bratton wrote about how recent media availability shows why Eli Drinkwitz may be the best quote among SEC’s offseason hires.
- AL.com: John Tulty took us inside college football’s coronavirus information war. Good read.
- From ESPN’s Brett McMurphy:
How critical is next 2 weeks? Mark Emmert told NCAA Council if decision had to be made now NCAA fall championships (soccer, cross country, volleyball & FCS football) likely would be canceled, sources told @Stadium. FBS officials have said they won’t make decision before late July— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 16, 2020
Illinois announces home football games at Memorial Stadium this season will be limited to 20% capacity w/6-foot social distancing & reserved seating. Face coverings will be required in public areas. Tailgating will not be allowed— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 16, 2020
Other Mizzou/Local Sports
- Bennett Durando, in a special to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wrote about how Mizzou Baseball’s Peter Zimmermann is embracing uncertainty in signing minor league deal with Astros.
- Bennett Durando of the Columbia Missourian has done an awesome job compiling stories from local coaches about moments that shaped them in their coaching careers. Here’s two more for you: Mizzou Swim & Dive Coach Andrew Grevers’ experience at the SEC Championships where his vision on team culture really took off (this is sooooo awesome), and Associate Head Track & Field Coach Natasha Kaiser-Brown’s 1992 experience at the Olympic Trials. READ THESE, Y’ALL. THEY ARE SUPER COOL.
- MU Track & Field racked up a bunch of academic honors, according to a staff post in the Missourian.
- Cuonzo was a guest on The Platform Sports Talk Show podcast. Tune in at the 36 minute mark to hear him!
- Power Mizzou’s Gabe DeArmond and Mitchell Forde were back with more hot taeks in their weekly Blowing Smoke, Presented by Weston Tobacco series. If you have never read this, READ THIS ONE. It was highly entertaining.
- The NABC, of which Cuonzo Martin (and my other favorite Coach Martin, Frank) is a member, proposed the elimination of minimum ACT/SAC scores for initial eligibility to colleges. HERE, HERE. (click on the picture for the full letter)
The NABC is proposing the NCAA no longer use SAT and ACT scores in enrollment qualification standards.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) July 16, 2020
“The SAT and ACT are long-standing forces of institutional racism and no longer have a place in intercollegiate athletics.” — Joint statement from Tommy Amaker + Frank Martin. pic.twitter.com/KOjhEQ0q5S
- Well, how bout that?!? Here’s hoping MPJ makes it to the bubble at some point.
- Our girl is back! And she’s being photographed by the cutest little sports intern ever— look at the thread for pics of The Mayor). Speaking of Soph, this interview with USA Today’s Jeff Metcalfe mentioned that she thinks she might have contracted COVID two times.
Our intern Bryson is really growing before our eyes. Today he learned how to photograph sports and got some cool shots off the tripod. He had an exciting morning meeting @sophaller and posing with BG. We think he has the potential to be a dual-threat photographer & model. pic.twitter.com/5G7I397Bzx— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) July 16, 2020
These are some of the best sports stories & tidbits I found regarding some goings-on in sports and the world— Enjoy!
- The MEAC has suspended all fall sports... indefinitely, according to Heather Dinich of ESPN/The Undefeated.
- Logboat Brewing, one of my favorite businesses, is opening a new place, Waves Cider Co. Vox Magazine’s Sarah Everett conducted Q&A with them to find the ins and outs of this new business venture.
- KMOX’s Tom Ackerman was back with a new Garage Happy Hour. His newest guest? ST. LOUIS RAMS SUPER BOWL MVP & HOF’er, KURT WARNER.
Kurt Warner was spectacular today on the “Garage Happy Hour.” Vintage Kurt, discussing the ‘99 season in detail. Enjoy :) https://t.co/QImcOAG7r7— Tom Ackerman (@Ackerman1120) July 17, 2020
- GOAT gymnast Simone Biles has been busy lately gracing the cover the Vogue, and was also part of a really great piece by Bonnie D. Ford and Alyssa Roenigk for ESPN/The Undefeated. In this article, they interviewed Biles, along with her mother, longtime coaches, and best friend, and talked about how she’s changed the face of USA Gymnastics. It’s really comprehensive.
- From The Ringer.com (a great website): Bryan Curtis said that sports are coming back, but is sports media coming back with it? If you’re interested in Cam Newton, check out Tyler Tines’ new podcast, The Cam Chronicles, on the life and legacy of Newton. Kevin O’Connor redid the Power Rankings of NBA teams on the bubble and in the bubble.
- Just when I was all in on the WNBA, they pull this shady s$#@. I don’t like this. At all. Elena Della Donne wrote an open letter in The Players Tribune about her health (she has Lyme disease). WBNA, do the right thing and give her a chance to opt out like everyone else and not make her decide between her job and her health. That’s just gross. Deadspin reported that the Washington Mystics has since said they’d pay her regardless, but that’s not really the point, as it’s not about the money.
- Am I a New Orleans Pelicans fan now? I just might be. I’ve already developed quite the affliction (affection?) for JJ Redick, as you are aware, but damn... Jrue Holiday and his wife, soccer star Lauren, are donating the remainder of his checks, some 5.3 MILLION DOLLARS, to a new social justice fund they’ve started. This is beyond awesome.
- And I’ll leave you with this, which made me laugh. Wash U, huge party school.
- If you’re looking to sign up for ESPN+, Rock M Nation now has an affiliate link: click Here for ESPN+ Now! (** RockMNation has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though RockMNation may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.**)