In a time where it seems everyone is divided, one thing I think we can all agree on is the dumpster fire that has been 2020. COVID-19 ran (and continues to run) rampant through our country and for the sake of this column, has altered the sports world. Over the past several months we’ve seen the virus postpone or even cancel major events. As time went on they slowly returned and had success. Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, Women’s National Basketball Association and NASCAR all returned back with little distraction and completed their seasons. Football, however, is a completely different story.
Yes, I completely understand that football is much more difficult to contain social distancing and limit travel. When you have a 53-player roster and over a dozen coaches and staff members it is near impossible to stay COVID free. The National Football League continues to have positive tests on what seems to be a daily basis. However, I want to turn my attention to the NCAA.
Earlier this summer major conferences and players opted out of the 2020 season in the wake of the coronavirus. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) decided that they would play their season regardless. On a personal note; I am a Tennessee fan so that news had me both excited and concerned. Earlier this week the SEC has postponed this weekends action due to the virus (surprise, surprise).
Fast forward to today and most of the major conferences flipped their decision and are now playing. For the most part the games have been exciting to watch. However, I find this year not to be as dramatic, suspenseful or even memorable for the right reasons. Perfect example, this past weekend Notre Dame knocked off number one ranked Clemson on national television. Any other year I would be leaping off my couch with excitement and looking forward to the power rankings and how it altered the playoff picture. Not this year. I honestly rolled my eyes at it. They beat a shorthanded Tigers team (Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence did not play as he tested positive for coronavirus) and it took the Irish two overtimes to do it! I was underwhelmed at the accomplishment to say the least. The top 25 has been laughable all season long as you have teams like BYU, Liberty and Coastal Carolina in the rankings.
The PAC-12 was late to the party as this past weekend the conference played their first games. Eight of the teams managed to take the field, as for the other four teams their games were postponed due to the coronavirus. California could not even fill a team because they had so many players test positive! What are they doing?! Figure it out already. What a debacle. Two teams in the PAC-12 are in the top 25. Twelfth ranked Oregon; which destroyed Stanford 35-14 and 20th ranked University of Southern California (USC) edged Arizona State University 28-27. Why are either team ranked right off the bat? Neither team played a game prior to this weekend. I am all for preseason power rankings but why have a PAC-12 team ranked at all this late in the year?
I typically do not go on rants like this but it was a conversation between my friends and I over the phone this weekend and I have to say my frustration level was through the roof. I am sure it will pass and I will continue to follow the season, but I feel like the anticipation of the Heisman watch, playoffs and National Championship Game is underwhelming to me this year.
Dennis D. Cruz is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.