It's been a bizarre 72 hours in college football. Conferences have canceled seasons, others have stayed the course, players have organized together and rumors about the future of the 2020 season have swirled rapidly. The SEC is all-systems-go toward the start of the conference-only season on Sept. 26. That's the plan as of now, at least.
On Monday, Multiple SEC coaches and athletic directors released statements addressing the sport's future as the status of college football as a whole remains in limbo.
"I want to play, but I want to play for the players' sake, the value they can create for themselves," Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN. "I know I'll be criticized no matter what I say, that I don't care about player safety. Look, players are a lot safer with us than they are running around at home. We have around a 2% positive ratio on our team since the Fourth of July. It's a lot higher than that in society. We act like these guys can't get this unless they play football. They can get it anywhere, whether they're in a bar or just hanging out."
Florida coach Dan Mullen, who is entering his third season leading the Gators, also chimed in on where he stands on the issue via his Twitter account.
"I am so proud of our players. Their commitment to medical guidelines to stay safe has showed their resolve in preparing the right way for the season," Mullen tweeted. "They deserve to play this fall. They have worked so hard for this. Let's fight for them and find a way. #WeWantToPlay"
First-year Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, who's never scared of a hot mic, found a way to weave dogs into the conversation.
"I think I'm not supposed to say anything, but I'm not a big fan," Leach said of the Big Ten leaning toward postponing its season. "I think we need to make sure that we're right and we're following the science on (COVID-19). People want to live their lives sand we need to aggressively pursue that as much as we can. Right now college football hasn't decided whether they're the dog or the vehicle. They don't know if they're going to stay."
Administrators are also making their voices heard. LSU athletic director Scott Woodward issued a statement on Monday regarding the status of the season.
"We remain steadfast in our approach in the Southeastern Conference, taking all the available time to gather as much information as possible in order to make informed decisions," he said. "We are united in our process and our focus on the safety and well-being of our student-athletes. The recent flood of reports surrounding college athletics does not alter that approach. As we have said since the beginning, we are patiently working through each and every variable following the direction of our Return to Safety and Medical Guidance Task Force. I believe our student-athletes want to play. We owe it to them to make every effort to do so safely."
That statement came on the heels of commissioner Greg Sankey's Twitter statement.
"Best advice I've received since COVID-19: "Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new and you'll gain better information each day.' "[The} SEC has been deliberate at each step since March...slowed return to practice...delayed first game to respect start of fall semester, developed testing protocols ... we know concerns remain," he wrote. "We have never had a FB season in a COVID-19 environment. Can we play? I don't know. We haven't stopped trying. We support, educate and care for student-athletes every day, and will continue to do so ... every day."
LSU coach Ed Orgeron spoke at length about playing this fall and how the SEC has handled this process on Tuesday morning on Fox News Channel.
"Our players want to play, I do believe the SEC wants to play," Orgeron said. "I do have to give it to our commissioner for waiting to get the most information and making the correct decision for our football team and I do believe he will make that."
Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek issued a statement on his Twitter account, throwing his support behind the #WeWantToPlay campaign ... which happens to include his son.
What will the SEC decide? Well, that's up to the school presidents more than the athletic directors and coaches. But it's clear where the people on the athletics side fall in the growing college football debate.