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Jumbo Package: SEC was blindsided by Big Ten news, Alabama still plans to play USC

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Alabama Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. Yesterday we got news that the Big Ten would be playing a conference only schedule this fall, and it was apparently news to the other schools around the country as well.

The Power 5 commissioners hold daily conference calls but sources throughout the SEC were not expecting the Big Ten to announce Thursday it was scrapping its non-conference games. The announcement came a day after the Ivy League canceled its fall sports. The Big 12 was similarly caught off-guard, according to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby who told CBS Sports Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren never gave a heads up to the other commissioners this move was coming.

This isn’t a decision that is made overnight. Warren is in his first season as the Big Ten commissioner following the retirement of longtime power broker Jim Delany, and one of his first acts was apparently to deceive his four counterparts in the other major conferences, some of whom have schools that will be impacted by this move. This doesn’t bode particularly well, Kevin. Cincinnati, who is scheduled to play Nebraska, seems a little pissed.

If the game is not rescheduled, Nebraska will theoretically owe Cincinnati $1.5 million for breaching the contract. That would be a tough bill to pay with no revenue. Hopefully the conference only thing works out for them.

In any case, there were reports that the Pac 12 would be following suit, but if that’s the plan then Greg Byrne is unaware.

AL.com reached out to Alabama athletics for comment those reports, and athletics director Greg Byrne responded Thursday evening.

“USC AD Mike Bohn and I are in regular contact,” Byrne said. “Our current plan is to play the game.”

Guess we wait and see.

Greg Sankey is pretty candid about the whole thing. He’s still optimistic, but...

Still, ESPN college football analyst Rece Davis, in an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up,” might be a bit more optimistic.

“I talked to several people over the last several days anticipating this decision and while they respect the Ivy League and there will be, no doubt, some presidents that will be cognizant of the fact they will be viewed as not caring as much as the academic mission as much as the athletic one if they don’t follow suit with the Ivy League, but they didn’t believe that it would have a huge impact,” he said.

Emphasis mine. Rece is spot on, and there’s also a Finebaum quote in there about the “optics.” The Ivy League wasn’t as worried about the safety of the athletes as they were about the “optics” of playing sports while keeping faculty and the majority of the student body at home. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that they don’t care about their athletes, but they are also plenty smart enough to know that the risk to them is extraordinarily low. Appearances are everything in this world nowadays, unfortunately.

Oh, in case you were wondering about what Lou Holtz (lol) thinks about the whole thing:

That’s how gangs came about. When they started deemphasizing athletics in schools, people starting joining a gang because young people want to be part of something.

No, really, he said that. I mean, who among us hasn’t started with the idea of playing a pickup basketball game and ended up knocking off a liquor store instead?

Hey, we all are looking for a little hope, right? Well, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers a little this morning. Check out this quote from the infectious disease director at Pitt medical, which is coincidentally located within the Big Ten footprint.

But another possible factor is that UPMC more recently has been seeing a mutated SARS-CoV-2 strain that seems to be more infectious but less virulent than the original strain that triggered the pandemic, said Dr. Graham Snyder, UPMC medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology.

Only 2% of recent infections are causing severe enough illness to result in hospitalizations, with only one-tenth of those hospitalizations (or 0.2% of all positive cases) resulting in death.

Let’s hope this is accurate. For what it’s worth, UPMC has been suggesting that mindsets change from focusing on case counts to severity for a while now. That’s just common sense to me, but as of now we are still shutting stuff down over asymptomatic case counts. As long as that continues it will be tough to do much of anything, let alone college sports.

Jerry Jeudy is clearly terrified of the ‘Rona, y’all.

I bet there are a lot of current players on Alabama’s roster who feel the same way, Jerry. Let’s hope you all get to play.

Jerry isn’t doing quite as well adjusting to the altitude, however.

Hopefully he will adapt soon.

Last, Alex Reese tweeted out a little encouragement for Donta Hall, who was signed for the rest of the season by the Brooklyn Nets.

Nate Oats said candidly in March that Alex was going to have to prove that he wants to be a part of the program following an arrest for public intoxication. Reese had apparently been playing through a hip injury that required surgery after the season, and at least publicly has said all of the right things leading into his senior year. Hopefully he is able to reach his full potential this season. Oats was quite excited about him last summer.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.