It seems crazy that this can even be typed, but ACC football is slated to begin in 12 days. And from Syracuse, everything seems to be running smoothly. According to SU athletic director John Wildhack, nobody involved with Syracuse athletics has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past six weeks. Football players have asked for and received increases in testing frequency (the players will be tested three times the week of their opening game). Even with students returning to campus, the Hill has dealt with only 12 positive cases. Syracuse has been diligent with entry testing, and athletes, coaches, and administrators have all followed protocols to a T.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for other schools around the conference. UNC, NC State, and Notre Dame all have had 100-plus cases since students moved back to campus (UNC has had over 1,000 students contract the virus). However, these schools did not require entry testing, and therefore allowed students who could’ve previously contracted the virus to come on campus, a stark contrast to SU’s rule of requiring two negative test results.
Since the Orange are set to begin their 11-game season in less than two weeks, let’s take a look at the schedule, and see how SU’s opponents have handled COVID-19.
9/12 @ UNC
The UNC campus could be classified as a COVID hotspot at this point. However, when the decision was made to send students home, the football players stayed put. UNC kept its student-athletes on campus (the football team is COVID-free), and effectively created a bubble, resuming practice on August 22nd. The North Carolina athletic department announced on August 28th that there will be no fans at Kenan Memorial Stadium this year. Syracuse will certainly benefit from not having crowd noise while dealing with an aggressive UNC defense.
9/19 @ Pitt
Pitt has had 60 total cases since August 1st, a far cry from UNC. However, there was a scare in the program on August 13th. Practices were canceled after players displayed symptoms of the virus. However, no players tested positive, and practices continued. Heinz Field will also be without fans this year.
9/26 Georgia Tech
GT has reported 641 total cases since students returned to campus. However, none of them are athletes. Over the summer, 11 athletes (sport not specified) tested positive, but practices continued, and zero positive player tests have been reported since August 11th.
Durham has only been home to nine COVID cases since August 2nd, six of which have been students. None have been athletes. However, two of head coach David Cutcliffe’s players have opted out of the season because of coronavirus concerns. Just like their sky blue neighbors, the Blue Devils will play in an empty stadium this year. Duke opens the season traveling to Notre Dame, and South Bend has had a fair share of issues with the virus.
Umm… Liberty might just be living in a different reality than the rest of us. Head Coach Hugh Freeze said that players are only being tested if they show symptoms, which is a massive red flag since many young people that have the virus are asymptomatic. Liberty football’s iteration of “zero positive tests” would probably be better described as “zero tests administered.” Syracuse AD Wildhack quickly spoke out against the Flames’ lack of testing, as did SU football players, leading to an outcry from the ACC at large. No further information has been released about whether Liberty changed its testing protocols. The student body returned to campus on August 24th, and 25 positives were reported in the first week.
10/24 @ Clemson
Clemson students are currently taking online classes, and in-person instruction doesn’t start until September 21st, meaning the athletes are on campus by themselves. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe, as the football team had a massive COVID-19 outbreak over the summer (37 cases). However, none of the Tigers have tested positive since July 10th. There will be approximately 19,000 fans in Memorial Stadium when Syracuse takes its trip to Death Valley .
10/31 Wake Forest
Wake has only had 25 confirmed cases, and is randomly testing hundreds of students on a weekly basis. None of its football players have tested positive, and players are being tested multiple times a week. Sage Surratt, the Demon Deacons’ leading receiver in 2019, is opting out of the season to prepare for the NFL Draft.
11/7 Boston College
Only 12 students have tested positive since returning to Chestnut Hill, and zero BC student athletes were positive during their last round of testing. Only one football player has tested positive since July. Players are not supposed to leave campus, staying in what head coach Jeff Hafley calls the “BC Bubble.” As of right now, there is no indication whether BC will allow fans in Alumni Stadium.
11/20 @ Louisville
Louisville has had 215 student cases since August 10th, and had to stop practices for multiple sports after an off-campus party led to a small outbreak. Luckily, none of the Cardinals’ football players were at the gathering. According to head coach Scott Satterfield, U of L has had “around four” positive tests since resuming practice in early July. Cardinal Stadium will hold 30% capacity for the 2020 season, which is around 18,000 people.
11/28 NC State
NC State has reported 871 cases between students and staff (yikes), and transitioned to online instruction starting Monday, August 24th. 27 cases were within the athletic department. Since athletes were part of the positive tests, the football program suspended practices and pushed back its opening game against Virginia Tech to September 26th. The Wolfpack will now begin its season on September 19th against Wake Forest.
12/5 @ Notre Dame
Notre Dame moved to online instruction for two weeks after numbers ballooned during the first week of school. Cases have since dropped, and the university will soon return to in-person classes. Unfortunately, two football players tested positive last Sunday.
The Fighting Irish have continued to practice despite the cases. Notre Dame Stadium will be limited to 20% capacity this year.
There was a positive sign for college football a couple of days ago. Last weekend, Central Arkansas played Austin Peay in the first CFB game of the year. After the contest, UCA reported zero positive tests from players, coaches, or staff. Can this hold true throughout the college football world? Unfortunately, nobody knows. For now, stay safe, and go Orange.