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Arizona QB Kevin Doyle Jr. is third Power Five player to opt out of 2020 season over COVID-19 concerns

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By way of Arizona, a third college football player has opted out of the 2020 season.  Certainly, though, he won’t be the last.

On Twitter over the weekend, Kevin Doyle Jr. announced that he will not play for the Arizona football team in 2020.  The quarterback cited concerns over COVID-19 in making what he described as “a really tough decision.”

Doyle’s announcement came prior to players from the Pac-12 threatening to sit out the season en masse.  It also came after one of his Arizona football teammates was suspended for repeatedly violating the school’s COVID-19 protocols.

”We are in challenging times,” Doyle began his missive. “I have been watching and reading about the Covid pandemic and I understand that it is new for everybody.  The only thing I can do is listen to professionals and watch professionals and make decisions off that information.  Dozens of high-profile NFL players are opting out of playing football and giving up tens millions of dollars.  There must be more risk than I can even perceive.

”I love the University of Arizona and I support my teammates and coaches. With that being said, [Friday] I gave my official notice that’s I will be opting out of the upcoming football season.

”I am looking forward to getting past this pandemic and redoing my teammates as quickly as possible.”

Doyle was a three-star member of the Arizona football Class of 2018.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then didn’t see the field this past season.  A shoulder injury, though, factored into his inaction in 2019.

Late last month, Illinois running back Ra’Von Bonner became the first FBS player to opt out over COVID concerns.  A couple of days later, standout Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley became the second.

Pac-12 players threaten to sit out 2020 season over racial injustice, COVID-19 concerns

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A text message circulating among Pac-12 football players is encouraging them to opt-out of practices and games until they can negotiate protections and benefits related to health and safety, economic rights and the fight against racial injustice.

ESPN first reported the possible movement among players at multiple Pac-12 schools and The Athletic published the text invitation. A public announcement, along with a list of demands, was published Sunday through The Players Tribune and social media platforms.

“Our [goal is to] obtain a written contract with the Pac-12 that legally ensures we are offered the following protections and benefits.”

Listed are:

  • Ensure safe play during COVID-19
  • Fight racial injustice
  • Secure economic rights and fair compensation. “Distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports,” the players wrote in the Tribune piece.
  • Protect all sports
  • Obtain long-term health insurance

“Due to COVID-19 and other serious concerns, we will opt-out of Pac-12 fall camp and game participation unless [our] demands are guaranteed in writing by our conference to protect and benefit both scholarship athletes and walk-ons,” the players wrote.

The Pac-12 on Friday announced its plan to delay the start of the season to Sept. 26 and play only 10 conference games in an attempt to manage potential disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. The states of California and Arizona, home to half the Pac-12 teams, have experienced some of the worst surges in coronavirus cases over the last month.

The Pac-12 approved a plan that will allow teams in the conference to start 20 hours per week of team activities, including weight training, meetings and non-contact practices known as walk-throughs. Preseason practice in the Pac-12 is scheduled to start Aug. 17, but currently USC, UCLA and Cal are operating under local restrictions that would prevent their football teams from practicing.

“Neither the Conference nor our university athletics departments have been contacted by this group regarding these topics,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “We support our student-athletes using their voices, and have regular communications with our student-athletes at many different levels on a range of topics. As we have clearly stated with respect to our fall competition plans, we are, and always will be, directed by medical experts with health, safety and well being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff always the first priority. We have made it clear that any student who chooses not to return to competition for health and safety reasons will have their scholarship protected.”

Also on Saturday, The Washington Post reported on a meeting between player representatives from Southeastern Conference teams and the league’s commissioner, Greg Sankey, and medical advisers. The Post obtained an audio recording of the meeting.

“For so much unknown in the air right now, is it worth having a football season without certainty?” an unidentified player asked.

Sankey responded: “Part of our work is to bring as much certainty in the midst of this really strange time as we can so you can play football in the most healthy way possible, with the understanding there aren’t any guarantees in life.”

Pac-12 to mirror SEC, go with 10-game, conference-only schedule that kicks off Sept. 26

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The Pac-12 has become the third Power Five conference to clarify its plans for the 2020 college football season.

It was already known that the Pac-12 would play a conference-only season this year. Friday, the league confirmed that it will go with a 10-game conference late.  At the moment, the league is scheduled to kick off that campaign Sept. 26.  Week 1, which would be Week 4 of a normal season, will feature a pair of rivalry games in UCLA-USC and Arizona-Arizona State.

Each Pac-12 school will play five home games and five on the road.

The conference championship game had been scheduled for the first weekend of December in Las Vegas.  Now, it will be played on either the 18th or 19th of that month on the campus of the highest seed.

The conference also noted that the title game will be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas in both 2021 and 2022.

“From the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we have been committed to prioritizing the health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to our athletic programs,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in a statement. “The schedule and plans approved today and path to return to competition are subject to public health orders and will be taken in accordance with the health and well-being guidelines developed by our Pac-12 Medical Advisory Committee. The schedule and return to play plans provide for maximum flexibility and the best opportunity to play all fall sports in an environment that prioritizes safety. At the same time, we will continue to evaluate the best available science, data and advice of public health officials as we make decisions and any required adjustments going forward.

The SEC had previously announced that it will be going to a conference-only, 10-game schedule that kicks off Sept. 26. The ACC will play 10 conference games as well as one non-conference matchup per school.  That conference, though, will kick off its season Sept. 7-12.

The Big Ten and Big 12 have yet to announce their specific plans, although the latter will be going with a conference-only schedule that consists of 10 games.

Arizona player suspended over COVID-19 protocol violations says he’s not comfortable with said policies

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A storyline involving an Arizona football player has taken another twist.

According to Tucson.com, offensive lineman Edgar Burrola was suspended this week by the Arizona football team.  Why?  For violating the athletic department’s COVID-19 protocols.  The website wrote that “Burrola’s resistance to following safety protocols, which include face coverings and physical distancing during on-campus workouts, led to concern within the program that Arizona could become another Michigan State or Rutgers.”

In a subsequent interview with ESPN.com, Burrola acknowledged that he had violated the school’s protocols.  The offensive lineman also stated he didn’t trust those same protocols for which he was suspended.

From the report:

He confirmed to ESPN that he broke protocol — including showing up to the team facility without a mask and breaking a mandatory quarantine — but also said that he was considering sitting out the season because of his concerns.

“I don’t feel comfortable with the school policies, and I let my [position] coach know that,” Burrola told ESPN.

The position coach would be offensive line coach Kyle DeVan.  Thus far, there’s bee no comment from the Arizona football team on this latest development.

“There’s some people that are saying that we’re making guys do this, we’re making guys do that,” Arizona head football coach Kevin Sumlin said earlier this week. “What we are making them do is go through the protocol. And if you’re not gonna adhere to the protocol, then we can’t have you here.

“It’s my job to protect and uphold that protocol for everybody else that’s involved in this organization — players, coaches, administrators, medical (personnel). You’ve got coaches’ families.

“If you’re not gonna pay attention to the protocol, wear a mask, all that other stuff, we just can’t have you around.”

Appearing in 11 games last season for the Wildcats, Burrola started six of those contests at right tackle.  Tucson.com wrote that the redshirt junior will remain “on the roster with a reduced scholarship.”

Arizona suspends OL Edgar Burrola for violating COVID-19 protocols

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Courtesy of Arizona, we have a unique reason for a football player seeing punishment being meted out.

According to Tucson.com, offensive lineman Edgar Burrola has been suspended by the Arizona football team.  Why?  For violating the athletic department’s COVID-19 protocols.  The website wrote that “Burrola’s resistance to following safety protocols, which include face coverings and physical distancing during on-campus workouts, led to concern within the program that Arizona could become another Michigan State or Rutgers.”

Both of those Big Ten schools announced in the past week that their entire football teams had been placed under quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.  In late June, Arizona paused its phased return of football players due to increased cases of the virus in the state.

“There’s some people that are saying that we’re making guys do this, we’re making guys do that,” Arizona head football coach Kevin Sumlin told the newspaper. “What we are making them do is go through the protocol. And if you’re not gonna adhere to the protocol, then we can’t have you here.

“It’s my job to protect and uphold that protocol for everybody else that’s involved in this organization — players, coaches, administrators, medical (personnel). You’ve got coaches’ families.

“If you’re not gonna pay attention to the protocol, wear a mask, all that other stuff, we just can’t have you around.”

Appearing in 11 games last season for the Wildcats, Burrola started six of those contests at right tackle.  Tucson.com wrote that the redshirt junior will remain “on the roster with a reduced scholarship.”