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The Fifth Quarter: Week 2 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

YOU CAN’T SPELL “OVERRATED” WITHOUT S-E-C
Well, technically you can, but just let me go.  I’m on a roll.

Last week, the Associated Press voters turned the SEC into the only conference in that poll’s history to have 10 teams ranked in its Top 25.  Most outside the South scratched their heads at such deference to the conference, but the coaches in the league ran with it in trumpeting the superior firepower their collection of teams had to offer.  And then Week 2 happened.

Second-ranked Alabama looked presentable against decided underdog Middle Tennessee State (and by “presentable” think Ohio State-Hawaii), while sixth-ranked Auburn was taken to overtime, at home, by FCS Jacksonville State.  No. 18 Arkansas was embarrassingly dropped at home by Toledo of the MAC, followed by 21st-ranked Missouri hanging on for a 27-20 win over an Arkansas State team that was on the wrong end of a 55-6 USC woodshedding in Week 1.

The non-conference kick-to-the-tentacles day for the SEC was punctuated by 23rd-ranked Tennessee.  Up 17-3 on No. 19 Oklahoma entering the fourth quarter, the Vols gave up a pair of touchdowns to send the game into overtime.  The Sooners, on the road, scored two touchdowns in the two overtime sessions while the Vols managed just one in a gut-wrenching home loss that gives UT a 2-30 record vs. AP-ranked teams since 2009.

At least No. 16 Texas A&M (56-23 over Ball State) and No. 17 Ole Miss (73-21 over Fresno State) stepped on an inferior opponent’s throat and didn’t allow them to breathe.

Based on results and not on reputation, the SEC should have, at the very most, six teams ranked in the newest AP Top 25 — my ballot, if I had one, would have four: Alabama, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Georgia and no I didn’t forget about LSU or Auburn.  And that’s no slight to that conference or any of their teams; rather, that’s a nod to some quality teams throughout college football, some that are (gasp!) better than some of the currently-ranked ones in the SEC.  In a few hours, though, we’ll see how many voters can leave their biases at the door and vote for the here-and-now — without tapping into their memory banks.

YOU GO GIRL!
Earlier this past week, we noted that Kent State head coach Paul Haynes promised that his walk-on female kicker, April Goss, would see the field at some point this season.  As it turns out, some point was Saturday.

Following a Golden Flash touchdown late in the second quarter of the game against Delaware State, regular kicker Shane Hynes went out for the point after attempt.  Haynes, though, called a timeout and, when the special teams unit went back out on the field, Goss trotted out along with them.

And, as they say, the rest was history.

As noted in the tweet, Goss became the second female to score in an FBS game.  The first, Katie Hnida, originally on the roster at Colorado before transferring under what ultimately became controversial circumstances, was successful on two point-after attempts for New Mexico in 2003. Months prior to that debut, Hnida attempted an extra point in the Las Vegas Bowl — it was blocked — becoming the first female to play in an FBS game.

Congratulations to Goss for grabbing her piece of history.  And a personal thank you as well for giving my nine-year-old daughter something to cheer wildly about yesterday evening.

YOU GO GIRL! PART DEAUX
Unbeknownst to many, or even most, people, the SEC made some of its own gender history Saturday night.

The SEC oversees Sun Belt Conference officiating, and utilized a crew from that conference for the Texas A&M-Ball State game because of the number of league home games this weekend.  Sebrina Brunson was an alternate on that crew and, after halftime, took over an on-field spot on that crew.

A league spokesperson subsequently confirmed to the Associated Press that Brunson became the first female to ever officiate an SEC game.  Kudos to the SEC for at least partially breaking down that barrier.

IRISH TITLE HOPES SNAPPED?
Entering the 2015 season, many an observer was viewing Notre Dame as a viable playoff contender. In a span of seven days, however, the Irish may have seen their postseason hopes dashed.

First, top running back Tarean Folston was ruled out for the remainder of the year because of a torn ACL suffered in the season-opening win over Texas. Then, a week later, starting quarterback Malik Zaire sustained what will be a season-ending fractured ankle in the win over Virginia.  And, suffice to say, it was a painfully horrific way for Zaire’s season to come to an end.

So, for the remainder of the year, the keys to the Irish offense will be in the hands of redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer.  Kizer did his part in relief of Zaire as he tossed a pair of touchdown passes, including a 39-yarder with 12 seconds left to lift ND to a 34-27 win over UVa.

That said, what would the Irish give for a do-over from Everett Golson on his transfer to Florida State?  The Irish aren’t out of playoff contention by any stretch of the imagination, but the twin losses to key offensive performers makes it a significantly tougher row to hoe for the Golden Domers.  Well, that and a schedule that includes games against Georgia Tech, Clemson and USC.

HARBAUGH’S GONNA HARBAUGH
For the most part, it was a kinder, gentler Jim Harbaugh in Week 1.  For the home opener, the khaki gloves came off.

Late in the second quarter of Michigan’s win over Oregon State, a Wolverine was, wrongly as it turned out, flagged for roughing the punter.  And, being the gentleman that he is, Harbaugh decided to gently point out that fact to the men in black & white.

And by “gently” I mean he stomped and tossed his playsheet and generally ranted and raved about what was admittedly a bad call.

For some reason, I get the feeling that’s not the last time we’ll see an animated Harbaugh roaming the Ann Arbor sidelines.

NICE, JOHNSON
He’ll get barely if any Heisman buzz, but what Matt Johnson has done the first two games of the season deserves some recognition.

In the first two games of the season, and against Power Five teams Tennessee and Maryland no less, the Bowling Green quarterback has thrown for 915 yards and eight touchdowns.  491 of those yards and six of those touchdowns came during a career-high performance in BGSU’s 48-21 upset of Maryland in College Park Saturday; his previous career-high prior to this season was 393 yards against Northern Illinois in the 2013 MAC title game.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Johnson’s early-season performance, even above the fact that it’s come against to P5 teams?  He missed most of the 2014 season with a hip injury that also kept him out of spring practice this year.

Thanks in large part to Johnson, the Falcons will have to be considered not only the favorites in the MAC East but one of the teams who could potentially grab the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid.

LESS WEAK 2
Just a little bit, though.

In the 87 games that were played opening weekend, a full 47 were FBS vs. FCS — 22 involving Power Five conference teams, 25 involving the Group of Five.  A week later, that number was cut nearly in half to 25 — 15 for P5s, 10 for G5s.  The power conferences will, though, get a heavy dose of the G5s in the 76 total games played this weekend (including Thursday/Friday nights), with 31 games between those two football caste systems scheduled.

Last week there were 11 games pitting P5s against each other; in Week 2, that number dipped a bit to 10.  Six of those contests are non-conference matchups (Oregon State at Michigan; Washington State at Rutgers; Notre Dame at Virginia; Iowa at Iowa State; Oklahoma at Tennessee; and Oregon at Michigan State) while eight teams will open up conference play (Wake Forest at Syracuse; Georgia at Vanderbilt; Kentucky at South Carolina; and LSU at Mississippi State).

Rounding out Week 2’s 76 games are 10 G5-G5 clashes.

SATURDAY RESET
Below is a list of links for all of the Week 2 gamers posted by the CFT crew, placed in one handy and convenient space for you, our beloved and dear readers.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Sunday if I, ya know, had a real vote.

1. Ohio State — Defensively, it was as impressive a performance as there was in Week 2.  Offensively… it was as impressive a defensive performance as there was in Week 2.  Both quarterbacks looked tentative and uncertain in the win over Hawaii; Urban Meyer needs to get that position cleared up sooner rather than later. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Northern Illinois, Sept. 19

2. Michigan State — You beat the seventh-ranked team in the country, you get moved right on to the heels of the defending champs.  In fact, the only thing that kept me from moving the Spartans up one more spot was a less-than-impressive win over Western Michigan in Week 1. (Last week: No. 5)
Next up: vs. Air Force, Sept. 19

3. TCU — What did we learn in TCU’s 70-7 shellacking of Stephen F. Austin?  The Horned Frogs are still a damn-good football team and, well, that’s about all we learned.  How good TCU is might not actually be known for another month. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. SMU, Sept. 19

4. Alabama — Let me be blunt here: I flat-out whiffed on ‘Bama in Week 1.  The Tide should’ve been included in the original Top Five, and I just completely forgot about them.  Consider this a market correction, even as they failed to impress much in the win over Middle Tennessee State. (Last week: NR)
Next up: vs. No. 17 Ole Miss, Sept. 19

5. Oregon — Lose by three on the road to one of the Top Five teams in the country?  My conscience won’t allow me to move them out quite yet, especially as the likes of Baylor and USC and Notre Dame and a handful of others undefeated teams simply don’t look better than a one-loss Oregon. (Last week: No. 5)
Next up: vs. Georgia State, Sept. 19

(Dropped out: No. 3 Auburn, my dignity for actually having Auburn ranked that high)

OFFERING ONE UP TO ST. TIMOTHY
I don’t think much needs to be added to this.

Hey, who am I to judge a man’s/woman’s choice for a final resting spot?

WOO PIG BINKIE!!!
In the end, Bret Bielema stuck his foot in his mouth with his in-week touting of the strength of Arkansas’ schedule and the SEC overall leading into his Razorbacks losing to Toledo.  His talking also left him open to this:

You know what they say: live by the word, die by the meme.

BILLY MADISON GAMEDAY SIGN OF THE DAY
Michigan State fans reached back to a cinematic classic for this zinger aimed at Saturday’s opponent Oregon.

As Michael Kelso is wont to say…

GAMEDAY SIGN OF THE DAY, ALL DIVISIONS
As funny as the above was to my 12-year-old self, the one below is just exceptionally well done.

Ouch.  Oh, and that would be Miley Cyrus circa 2004.

HELMET OF THE YEAR
I’m far from a fan of the myriad uniform combinations Oregon employs.  And I’m normally not a fan of cartoon characters masquerading as college football logos.  I’m a huge fan, however, of the helmet the Ducks decided to wear for the Michigan State game Saturday night.

Nicely done, Nike.  Nicely done.

THAT’S A BUTCH MOVE
Al Golden entered the 2015 season on one of the hottest coaching seats in the country.  How hot does it remain?  Some fans want the university to go back to the future for a savior.

I hate the smell of desperation this early in the morning…

TELLTALE TWEET OF THE WEEK
In numbers form, this is pretty much all you need to know about the state of the Texas Longhorn football program heading into Week 2.

And yes, Mack, I know it’s not your fault and you had nothing to do with the state of affairs in Austin.

It’s not just Charlie Strong, incidentally, that has the wrath of Longhorn Nation.

What an absolute mess in Austin athletics — the “huge” win over Rice notwithstanding — none of which is Mack’s doing, of course.

HE SAID IT
“I don’t know if anybody listens to me or not, but this is mainly about the players. The guys that are out there playing, and their families that are watching it.” — Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, following the buildup to his first home game as his alma mater’s coach and all of the pregame focus being on him.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“Let’s not go heaping too much praise on them just yet. They’re kind of like mushrooms; we like to keep them in the dark and feed them manure.” — Houston’s Tom Herman, following the “upset” win over Louisville and with the first scatological reference of the “he said it” era.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I don’t know. I guess you ask [athletic director] Gene Smith. That’s the guy to talk to.” — Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, when asked how he thought he’s handled the Buckeyes’ quarterback situation.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“You’re a helluva player, but have some damn class. ” — Tennessee head coach Butch Jones to Oklahoma’s Eric Striker, who was seen taunting the Neyland Stadium crowd following the Sooners’ double-overtime win.

HE SAID IT, THE FINAL ONE
“We won the game, but that’s not acceptable. You guys should be embarrassed having to write about it.” — An unhappy Jim McElwain, following Florida’s uneven seven-point win over East Carolina in Gainesville.

Meads Cup Final - North Otago v WanganuiSTREAKING
Two wins to start the 2015 season has pushed Ohio State’s nation’s best winning streak to 15 straight.  Up next are TCU (10), Memphis (nine), Western Kentucky (seven), Michigan State (six) and Navy (five).

The “honor” of the longest losing streak had belonged to Georgia State, which had lost 12 in a row until Saturday night’s 34-32 win over New Mexico State.  The win also marked GSU’s first-ever win over an FBS-level team as an FBS team themselves.  Additionally, Colorado ended its nine-game losing streak, the longest amongst Power Five teams, with a 48-14 win over UMass.  With those outcomes, UNLV now owns the nation’s longest losing streak at eight straight.

MY ANNUAL REMINDER THAT…
… Notre Dame, UCLA and USC are the only teams that have never played a non-FBS/Div. 1-A school since the current setup was established in 1978.  Following the 2016 season, and because of a conference mandate, Big Ten teams will no longer be permitted to schedule games against FCS programs.

S.I.D NOTE OF THE WEEK
In a claim that the great Kellen Moore can’t even make, Jake Browning became the first true freshman to win the starting quarterback spot as well as the first true freshman QB to start for head coach Chris Petersen at either his current home of Washington or his former home of Boise State.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK II
UNLV’s Tony Sanchez is just the fifth man in the modern era of college football to move directly from being a head coach at a high school to being head coach at a university that was part of what is now known as the FBS. Sanchez, of course, only had to move across the city after going 85-5 in six seasons while leading 2014 national champion Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. Jim Bradley, who passed away in August, was the first to do it when he went across town to take over at NMSU.

High School To College

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK III
The meeting with UCF marked the first for Stanford against a current FBS program from the Sunshine State. Stanford faced Pensacola in 1903 and 1904 when the team was stationed in the San Francisco Bay. Stanford has won three postseason games (1986 Gator Bowl, 1993 Blockbuster Bowl, 2011 Orange Bowl) played in the state of Florida.

S.I.D. NOTE OF THE WEEK IV
Thursday’s game at Western Kentucky marks Louisiana Tech’s first return to Bowling Green since 1939, a span of 76 years. That gap between trips to Bowling Green is the longest in school history between trips to a single opponent. The previous longest drought was a 62 years in between trips to Baton Rouge to face LSU (1941 to 2003) as well as 62 years before returning to New Orleans to face Tulane (1936 to 1998).

OFF THE CHARTS
Courtesy of the Louisiana Tech sports information department

Active TD Scorers

OFF THE CHARTS, PART II
Courtesy of the Michigan State sports information department

Most FBS Wins Since 2010

OFF THE CHARTS, PART III
Courtesy of the Mountain West sports information department

Bowl Record Since 2004

OFF THE CHARTS, PART IV
Courtesy of the Oregon sports information department

Most Passing TDs

SAY WHAT?
Qadree Ollison became the first freshman in ACC history to run for 200 or more yards (207) in the Week 1 win over Youngstown State and he did it in just the second half after an injury sidelined Pittsburgh’s James Conner.

DULY NOTED
V’Angelo Bentley is the only player in Illinois history to record a kickoff return, punt return, interception return and fumble return for touchdown in his career. Harold “Red” Grange is the only other Illini player with kickoff, punt and interception returns for TDs, but he never returned a fumble for a score.

487894378DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Dalvin Cook‘s 266 yards rushing were the second-most in Florida State history?  Cook’s performance is topped only by Greg Allen‘s 322 yards in 1981.

… Kentucky’s win over South Carolina in Columbia ended a 22-game losing streak in true road games?

… Miami sophomore running back Joe Yearby posted career-highs in all-purpose yards (243), rushing yards (146), receiving yards (97) and touchdowns (two, one each rushing and receiving) in the Friday night win over FAU?  Fellow running back Mark Walton set a career-high for rushing touchdowns with three in that victory as well.

… Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton last weekend became the second FBS quarterback to ever start five season openers, joining Tulsa’s T.J. Rubley (1987-91)?

… Wake Forest linebacker Brandon Chubb has a brother, Bradley Chubb, who is a linebacker at North Carolina State while his cousin Nick Chubb is a star running back at Georgia?  Additionally, he had another cousin who played defensive back at Georgia while his father was a linebacker at UGA.

… Washington State linebacker Peyton Pelluer‘s dad (Scott, 1977-80), grandfather (John, mid-fifties) and great-grandfather (Carl, twenties) all played for Wazzu?

Vizio Fiesta Bowl - Boise State v Arizona… this season there are 14 individuals serving as the head coach at their alma maters? Those are Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Bryan Harsin (Boise State), John Bonamego (Central Michigan), Ruffin McNeill (East Carolina), Paul Haynes (Kent State), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), David Shaw (Stanford), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Matt Wells (Utah State), Sean Kugler (UTEP), Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech) and Paul Chryst (Wisconsin).

… Oregon had been a wagering favorite for 46 straight games before they headed into their game against Michigan State as three-point underdogs?  Alabama has a current streak of 69 straight games as the favorite, which is tops in the country.

… Sept. 12 marks the latest LSU has opened a season since 1998 when the Tigers beat Arkansas State 42-6 on Sept. 12? LSU’s original 2015 opener against McNeese State last weekend was cancelled due to weather in general and lightning specifically.

… UCF’s game against Stanford Saturday was its first against a team from the state of California?

… with the win over North Carolina Central, Duke has started a season 2-0 for the third straight year for the first time since a streak of six in a row from 1949-55?

Georgia Southern v West Virginia… in 2014 and 2015, West Virginia posted back-to-back shutouts in home season openers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium for the first time in program history?

… Washington State’s Bob Robertson is the longest-tenured radio play-by-play announcer in college football with 49 years behind the mic?  The first time Robertson was on the radio call for a Wazzu game, a gallon of gas would set you back 30 cents.

… with the Illinois game originally scheduled for last Friday night delayed because of lightning, Kent State has had postponements in each of their last two road trips? The first of the two was Buffalo last November because of a snowstorm.

… there are just three Group of Five teams that have played in at least five straight bowl games?  That trio consists of Boise State, Northern Illinois and San Diego State.

… there are just six teams that won’t play back-to-back home games this season? The unfortunate six are FIU, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, San Diego State, UMass and Western Kentucky.

… Tulsa was the first school to play in five straight New Year’s Day Bowl Games? Those were the Sun Bowl (1-1-42), Sugar Bowl (1-1-43), Sugar Bowl (1-1-44), Orange Bowl (1-1-45) and Oil Bowl (1-1-46).

… only Hawaii and New Mexico State will have all new offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators in 2015?

IN CLOSING
Friday night, and in his first career start as a sophomore, Dubois (Pa.) Beavers quarterback Matt Miller passed for what’s believed to be a national high school record 782 yards, helped lead his team to 90 points… and lost.  That’s in large part because Meadville’s Journey Brown ran for 722 yards and 10 touchdowns in leading the Bulldogs to a 107-90 win over the Beavers.  Deadspin.com writes that Brown “had a chance to set the national high school record [for single-game rushing yards], but the Bulldogs took a knee” at the end of the game.

Big Ten pulls plug on fall football amid COVID-19 concerns

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The Big Ten won’t play football this fall because of concerns about COVID-19, becoming the first of college sports’ power conferences to yield to the pandemic.

The move announced Tuesday comes six day after the conference that includes historic programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State had released a revised conference-only schedule that it hoped would help it navigate a fall season with potential COVID-19 disruptions.

But it was not a surprise. Speculation has run rampant for several days that the Big Ten was moving toward this decision. On Monday, coaches throughout the conference tried to push back the tide, publicly pleading for more time and threatening to look elsewhere for games this fall.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

The Big Ten touts itself as the oldest college athletic conference in the country, dating back to 1896 when it was called the Western Conference, and its schools have been playing football ever since. It became the Big Ten in 1918 and grew into a football powerhouse.

The 14 Big Ten schools span from Maryland and Rutgers on the East Coast to Iowa and Nebraska out west. Not only has it been one of the most successful conferences on the field but off the field it has become one of the wealthiest.

The Big Ten, with its lucrative television network, distributes about $50 million per year to its members.

Trump, coaches push for college football as cracks emerge

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President Donald Trump joined a U.S. senator and a number of coaches Monday in the push to save the college football season from a pandemic-forced shutdown.

There was speculation that two of the five most powerful conferences — the Big Ten and the Pac-12 — might call off their seasons. Farther east, Old Dominion canceled fall sports and became the first school in the Bowl Subdivison to break from its league in doing so; the rest of Conference USA was going forward with plans to play.

A Big Ten spokesman said no votes had been taken by its presidents and chancellors on fall sports as of Monday afternoon and the powerful Southeastern Conference made clear it was not yet ready to shutter its fall season.

“Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day,’” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey posted on Twitter. ”Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying.”

A growing number of athletes have spoken out about saving the season with Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence among the group posting their thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #WeWantToPla. Trump threw his support behind them Monday.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled,” he tweeted.

Old Dominion has stopped trying. The Virginia school canceled football and other fall sports less than a week after Conference USA set out a plan to play a football season.

“We concluded that the season – including travel and competition – posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” ODU President Broderick said.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took a different stand, saying the Wolverines have shown players can be safe after they return to school.

“I’m not advocating for football this fall because of my passion or our players desire to play but because of the facts accumulated over the last eight weeks since our players returned to campus on June 13,” he wrote. “I am advocating on August 10 that this virus can be controlled and handled because of these facts.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, picked up on the safer-with-football theme in a letter to the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten.

“Life is about tradeoffs. There are no guarantees that college football will be completely safe — that’s absolutely true; it’s always true,” he wrote. “But the structure and discipline of football programs is very likely safer than what the lived experience of 18- to 22-year-olds will be if there isn’t a season.”

“Here’s the reality: Many of you think that football is safer than no football, but you also know that you will be blamed if there is football, whereas you can duck any blame if you cancel football,” added Sasse, a former college president. “This is a moment for leadership. These young men need a season. Please don’t cancel college football.”

Players unite in push to save college season, create union

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Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds saw the tweets from Trevor Lawrence and other college football players pushing for the opportunity to play this season despite the pandemic.

Reynolds, one of the organizers behind a players’ rights movement in the Big Ten, didn’t like the way some on social media seemed to be pitting Lawrence’s message against the efforts of #BigTenUnited and #WeAreUnited.

“There was a lot of division,” Reynolds told AP early Monday morning.

Reynolds got on a call with Lawrence and the star quarterback’s Clemson teammate, Darien Rencher, and within a matter of hours the summer of athlete empowerment found another gear.

College football players from across the country united Sunday in an attempt to save their season and ensure they will no longer be left out of the sport’s biggest decisions.

Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America running back Chuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous other players from Florida State to Oregon posted a graphic on social media with #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited.

“We came to the conclusion, We Want to Play, their message might have been conveyed differently but at the end of the day the message wasn’t too far off from what Big Ten United wanted to promote,” Reynolds said. “Which is we all want to play sports this fall. Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports. They just want to do so safely.”

The #WeAreUnited hashtag was used a week ago by a group of Pac-12 players in announcing a movement they say has the support of hundreds of peers within their conference. They have threatened mass opt-outs by players if concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for athletes are not addressed.

#BigTenUnited arrived on the scene a couple days later, a movement that claimed the backing off 1,000 Big Ten football players. Their demands were more targeted, strictly related to health and safety in dealing with COVID-19.

Sunday night, the call with Reynolds, Rencher and Lawrence led to a Zoom meeting — of course — with some of the Pac-12 players involved in “WeAreUnited.”

Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs got to work on a graphic and now the movement is officially nationwide.

“Just started bouncing ideas off each others’ heads and kind of discussing where we go from here and we ended up coming up with that statement,” said Reynolds, a senior from South Orange, New Jersey.

Under the logos of each Power Five conference — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — the players pronounced their platform:

— We all want to play football this season.

— Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.

— Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.

— Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.

— Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a College Football Players Association.

All of this capped a weekend during which the adults who run college sports seemed to be moving toward shutting it all down because of the pandemic.

A day after the Mid-American Conference became the first of the major college football leagues to cancel the fall season, Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday. They discussed mounting concerns about whether a season can be safely conducted with the pandemic still not under control in the United States.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions on the season have been made, but conceded the outlook has not improved.

“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago? No, we’re not,” he said.

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the Big Ten’s university presidents and chancellors held a previously unscheduled meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with direct knowledge of the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no votes were taken or decisions made about the college football season.

The final call on whether major college football will played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the largest conferences.

With doom and gloom hanging over college football, Lawrence, who has become the face of the sport in a summer of strife, tried to push back the tide with a series of tweets.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence posted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message, and the parents of Ohio State football players weighed in, too.

Reynolds wants athletes to have a say in the meetings that are deciding the fate of their sports — starting now.

”All college athletes through unifying and not being afraid to speak our minds and having social media to kind of mobilize, I think that box on a Zoom call is something that is pretty attainable,” he said. “Especially, in the near future.”

After MAC surrenders to pandemic, will other leagues follow?

MAC football
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In many ways, the Mid-American Conference has little in common with Power Five leagues that first come to mind when fans think of major college football.

There are no 75,000-seat stadiums in the MAC. Million-dollar per year coaches are rare. In a typical season, NFL scouts might find one or two potential first-round draft picks playing at the 12 MAC schools that dot the Midwest. The MAC’s biggest games — #MACtion, if you will — are often played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Its television deal with ESPN pays per year only a few million more than the $9 million Clemson pays coach Dabo Swinney.

Still, the MAC is one of 10 conferences that competes in the NCAA’s highest level of football, and Saturday it became the first of those to surrender to the coronavirus pandemic and cancel the fall sports season.

So is the MAC an anomaly, done in by its small budgets or is this a dire sign of things to come in college football?

“I won’t try to judge what other folks are doing,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “I know we’re all in the same place. They all have their advisers. They’re going to make judgments based on the information they are receiving.”

Not long after the MAC announced it would explore second-semester seasons for all fall sports, including soccer and volleyball, the Big Ten made its own announcement that seemed ominous given the timing.

Tapping the brakes on football’s preseason, the Big Ten told its schools that until further notice full contact practices cannot begin. All teams will remain in the first two days of what is known as the “acclimatization period,” working out in just helmets. The first Big Ten games of the season are scheduled for Sept. 5.

“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,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

The MAC’s schools were facing a significant financial burden by trying to maintain costly COVID-19 protocols, while also dealing with the uncertainty that campuses can be opened safely.

A move to the spring, however, could also be budget-buster if it means less revenue from the ESPN deal, which pays each school about $1 million per year, and football ticket sales. The MAC also shares about $90 million per year in College Football Playoff money with four other conferences.

“It would be naive to say that you don’t give thought and consideration to what the financial ramifications of any decision are, but this was a health and well-being decision first and foremost,” Steinbrecher said. “As we sit here today we don’t know what this will mean financially and how the rest of the fall plays out.”

Steinbrecher said the decision effects only fall sports, not basketball or others that begin in the second semester such as baseball, softball and lacrosse.

He added the decision was unanimous among the membership. Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier, supported by NIU President Lisa Freeman, has been a vocal advocate of delaying the season.

“No one wants to have football or sports more than me,” said Frazier, who played football at Alabama in the late 1980s. “Football gave me all the opportunities I have today, but I can’t do it at the expense of people’s lives.”

Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee said he has been feeling a sense of inevitability for two weeks about the MAC canceling fall football, but can’t predict whether this decision trickles up to other conferences.

“Could it? Certainly. There’s certainly a narrative out there that could happen,” Wetherbee said. “No, it wouldn’t shock me if some followed suit. In fact, it would shock me if some didn’t.”

NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline made clear that even though plans for the football season have been adjusted to accommodate potential COVID-19 disruptions like the ones Major League Baseball has had, they are all still aspirational.

“Almost everything would have to be perfectly aligned to continue moving forward,” Hainline said Friday during the NCAA’s weekly video chat on social media.

As the Power Five conferences re-worked their schedules to play exclusively or mostly within their conferences, another of the MAC’s revenue streams dried up.

MAC schools, with athletic budgets in the $30 million range, rely heavily on payouts from road games against power conference teams. Kent State alone had more than $5 million in so-called guarantee games canceled. Whether they can be recouped and when is still to be determined. Without that revenue, the strain became too great of trying to keep players and staff safe during a pandemic.

“Certainly there was a cost attached to it,” Wetherbee said. “But as a league we were prepared to do it.”

The move to try spring football has already been going on in the second tier of Division I.

Nine of 13 conferences that play in the Championship Subdivision, have postponed fall football seasons. The first was the Ivy League in early July.

Now it’s the MAC, which was among the first conferences to limit fan access to its basketball tournament in March as concerns for the virus began to soar across the country. On March 12, the MAC was among many conferences to call off their tournaments hours before the NCAA canceled all of March Madness.

“If you told me in March we’d be here today,” Steinbrecher said, “I’d never have believed it”