Love in the Time of the Virus: COVID 44, Tennessee 0; Alabama non-football student cases don’t bode well

Note to self: Get rights from SEC and Catholic Church to manufacture team rosaries. (Photo by Marilyn Davenport/flickr Creative Commins

Tennessee canceled a Saturday scrimmage because it had 44 players down with the COVID. Well, only “seven or eight” actually had it, the rest had been in close enough contact with people who did have it to be forced to sit because of NCAA protocols.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt only had 30 offensive players for what turned out to be a regular practice on Sept. 5. It only takes 22 to have a first-and-second string, but apparently Pruitt didn’t think they’d benefit from a game-type scrimmage.

I wonder.

If COVID does what COVID tends to do for the remainder of the football season, there may be games where you have to play with 30 offensive players, and if none of them happen to be, say, running backs, figure something out.

The NCAA protocols, for the record, stipulate that players who test positive must sit out for no less than 10 days, and be symptom-free for three days before they can return. Players who have had “high-risk” contact with a known infected person has to sit out for 14 days – that’s about how long it takes for COVID symptoms to show up. High risk contact is defined as being within 6 feet of somebody who tests positive for at least 15 minutes without wearing a mask.

I can see where this could happen a lot.

Virus Time at Bama

It could happen a lot at Alabama, where Coach Nick Saban made a decent argument for keeping the football team on campus. He said the players would be “a lot safer with us than they are running around at home.” Alabama has dozens of doctors and trainers watching over the flock, they’re tested several times a week, have their temperature taken every day, and their every move is monitored as closely as a 20-year-old college football player’s moves can be monitored.

But Saban made that proclomation before the students came back to campus. Alabama has roughly 40,000 students. And Bama is racking up COVID cases like the Crimson Tide used to rack up points out of the spread with a healthy Tua under center and Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddel in the spread.  

Last Friday The University reported that 846 more students tested, bringing the total to 2,047. Last week, the school’s administration released an email to faculty saying they were NOT (capital letters theirs) to tell their classes when students in the class had tested positive because it was a violation of HIPPA rules. 

So Alabama football players could be sitting in the same classroom alongside a student with COVID and never know it. Yeah, they practice social distancing in class, and everybody’s supposed to mask up (except the teacher), but sitting in a classroom with a bunch of other people breathing ought to present an environment the wily coronavirus could exploit to float around in until it found a ball player’s nose to grab ahold to. And when class starts and ends, you might slip over that 6-foot boundary because they never have enough doors in classrooms.

He comes down with it, slips under the radar into practice between tests and temperature checks, and Alabama has a defensive tackle playing quarterback against Tennessee on the road. All the Vols’ sick ones should be back by then. 

Am I paranoid? Do I entertain dark fantasies? Hell, yeah. I’m over 60 and have two known co-morbidities. I haven’t had a haircut since February, so I look like Santa with his cap off. My COVID radar is turned up to 11. 

QUESTION OF THE DAY: If there was a zombie apocalypse, would zombie football players still be eligible to play?