The BYU football team did everything right.
As much as possible, the Cougars formed a bubble environment through the fall camp and the start of training, but there was always a chance that the coronavirus could infiltrate the team, especially as the fall semester started.
Players bragged about their own responsibility, but the problem was always bigger than them. And now the season could suffer, not because one of the Cougars necessarily did something wrong, but because the regular students did.
BYU students have been targeted by administrators since the start of the semester for reckless off-campus behavior, including parties and pop-up dance clubs. The actions of college students in the state, but especially at BYU and Utah Valley University, have led to a marked upward trend in the number of cases right now, state epidemiologist Angela Dunn said Monday.
Although BYU has added a COVID dashboard to its coronavirus website, the school has moved from providing daily updates to weekly updates on case numbers.
The coach Kalani Sitake said he was not aware of any parties on or off campus. What he focused on is training the 123 players on his squad and staff to best tackle the pandemic and keep the season going.
When asked if any players attended any of the off-campus parties, senior Troy Warner said that the coaches and staff made it clear at the start of the pandemic and that players should be very aware when preparing for the season of their situations.
And that doesn’t include going to those kinds of activities or parties or whatever you may call it, Warner said. So I think every man on this team is well aware that they have to do their part to stay safe. Being aware of the environment and doing the right things so that they don’t endanger our season. I think every guy on this team is very aware of that and is doing his part to keep this thing going.
Even when no players took part in parties, the coronavirus still found its way to the team. Tribune columnist Gordon Monson reported that sources said about 10 players have tested positive and as many as 22 players have been quarantined.
The BYU COVID-19 housing website says there are quarantine protocols for students living in on-campus housing. In an email on Sept. 4, University Communications encouraged students to be sensible and follow on and off-campus safety requirements, but said there is no specific threshold that would indicate a return to distance learning. according to the Daily Universe.
As the number of cases continues to increase, it seems that the university has no choice but to move to distance learning. If so, it seems unlikely that the Cougars would be able to keep playing.
BYU had already postponed the September 19 game against Army. While both schools will continue to reschedule, football has served as a driving force for the players to stay safe.
Football in itself is a game in which you have to trust each other, said offensive lineman James Empey. So I think we have so many men [are] believe each other and trust each other. And I think everyone is doing their best to keep themselves in good situations and just move forward. We would just keep trying to get better and better with the guidelines we’ve been given.
If the Cougars have learned anything in the past six months, it’s to stay positive through the uncontrollable. And they will continue to do so, as they are forced to take a second straight week before resuming the season on September 26, when BYU hosts Troy.
The upcoming home opener will be the first college football game played in the West.
I have a lot of friends who aren’t playing right now, and there are a lot of great footballers who aren’t playing right now, Sitake said. So I know their frustrations. And right now we have it on hold. This attitude of appreciation and gratitude will continue. We talked to our players, had meetings about this whole process, and told them before the weekend that this was a strong opportunity to delay games. Great disappointment in them, but also there they left with great gratitude.