Colorado state football coach Steve Addazio is a dude, and guys aren’t afraid of the stinky corona virus. Addazio is concerned about defeating the CU Buffs in the September 5 season opener, don’t become the next victim of a pandemic that killed more than 85,000 Americans.
I asked Addazio, a husband and father celebrating his 61st birthday on June 1, if he felt an increased sense of danger from COVID-19?
“Zero!” Addazio replied hesitantly.
“I’m not irresponsible, but I’m not worried.”
Coach Daz is a guy who wholeheartedly believes that there will be college football in 2020. But if you want to hear COVID-19 smile, tell your dreams.
“College football should be played … if it’s safe,” Addazio said Thursday.
I confess I’m a guy like Daz. As a Midwestern boy who grew up in the 1960s, blinded by the glare of Notre Dame’s golden dome, college football is my first sporting affair. So it is my sincere wish that the season can begin with the Rams and Buffs playing Labor Day weekend on the CSU campus.
“According to the right protocols, we need to get our lives back on track,” Addazio said.
But logic tells me that there is a better chance of Colorado State winning the national championship against Alabama in 2020 than the end of this calendar year without the corona virus drastically changing, reducing or closing the regular season. If we can’t safely place students in CSU classrooms, putting the players on the field would be the height of hypocrisy to justify Addazio’s $ 1.5 million salary.
Do you want college football this year? Well, you better get more creative than some cockamamie idea from fans six feet apart in the stadium. And I’m here to help, with one idea for CU athletics director Rick George and CSU counterpart Joe Parker to chew on in these weird, uncertain times.
No game on the 2020 schedule can be written with ink, because there is so little suspicion of what devastation the pandemic might cause next, so little nationwide coordination of the testing and tracking we need, so little SEC consensus to the Pac-12 on the difference between what is safe and irresponsible to save a billion dollar company.
It’s no wonder that Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson told Sports Illustrated, “I feel like I’m at Grand Central Station, and 10 trains leave in different directions, and we don’t know which one to board.”
Daz may be the optimistic guy we need now, as loyal alumni and hurt sports bars alike long for a return to the norm on the sports calendar. Or maybe Addazio is a thunder head who chooses to ignore the fact that it might cost $ 1,000 to test every CSU footballer before the Rams can start blocking, tackling and breaking every rule of social distance again.
So what is it? Is Addazio a football brave heart or pig’s head knuckle?
The truth? Addazio is probably a little bit of both, because COVID-19 can hurt even the healthiest of us with conflicting, conflicting emotions. I cannot empathize with the moral certainty of those noisy ones who shout, “Reopen now!” or “Stay home!” Yes, I’m tired of being held hostage by an invisible illness. But I also hide feelings of guilt behind my mask with every urge to hug friends or family.
With nothing more than rough estimates of the July 1 death toll, who knows when (or) it will be safe for the rams and buffs to open a training camp? But movers and shakers in college athletics are starting to believe that just as governors in Louisiana and Oregon will reopen at different rates, the LSU Tigers and Oregon State Beavers may (or is not) willing to play football at different times.
“We are not going to have a football season, because a few teams in one state cannot play. We will have to move forward and take that into account in a different way,” said Addazio. It itches to hit the field, even though three Mountain West soccer teams in California are forced to remain offside due to stricter health restrictions in their home state.
So here’s a humble football proposal for these crazy coronavirus times:
Let’s assume for discussion purposes it is safe for the Rams and Buffs to play in a Canvas Stadium that is empty on September 5, except for players, coaches, officials and television cameras.
But the following weekend, Fresno State is scheduled to visit the Buffs, while CSU must take a road trip to Oregon State. In the name of health, safety, or interest from fans, those games make little sense in the era of the corona virus.
How about the Rams who get on a bus on the morning of September 12 and travel to Boulder to play CU in a rematch at Folsom Field?
Yes I know. The Buffs and Rams don’t like each other. But are we as proud sons and daughters of this beautiful state together in this fight against the corona virus? Or not?
Rams vs. Buffs. Buffs vs. Rams. What I suggest is a home and home football game. In back-to-back weekends.
Strange times require thinking outside the box.
Hello, CU and CSU: let’s play two in 2020.