Louisville’s football coach is right.
Ugh. Those words taste weird as I read them aloud. Let me try that again.
I completely agree with Louisville’s football coach.
Nope, it’s still weird. Not as bizarre as an episode of The Twilight Zone, but close. Nevertheless, it’s true.
In the midst of madness that consumed college football Monday morning, Louisville head football coach Scott Satterfield conducted a press conference via Zoom. Instead of addressing what his team accomplished on the field in early practices, he spent most of the time discussing his players’ mental state after reports indicated that the Big Ten would in fact not play football this fall, even though the league unveiled a schedule just a few days ago.
“Some of the leadership in some of these leagues, to me, are lacking in the fact that when we set a plan and said this is what we’re moving forward with, let’s stick to it, until we don’t need to stick to it anymore,” he said.
“That’s the frustrating part. We’re playing with these 18-22-year-olds’ minds by some of these leagues doing these things, this yo-yo, saying we’re going to do one thing one day and two days later tell them we’re going to do this right here. That’s not leadership. We had months to plan out how we’re going to come back, how we’re going to do this, and we’ve been doing it.
“All the medical advice we’ve been adamant about … and our kids are doing it because they want to play, and they’re sticking to it and it’s paid off and it’s worked out. And all of a sudden, we get negative talk coming in here this weekend, and again, it’s hurtful, actually. It really is. We had players crying this morning in our meetings. They’re crying, because they want to play.”
Fans can certainly relate to mental exhaustion from the back and forth. The difference is that football players have invested significantly more into the season than any outsider could ever understand. Satterfield believes the hope of playing football this fall motivated many players to act responsibly during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve had no cases in our program because the guys are doing things right. They’re coming over here and they have purpose in their lives right now. They know to come over here and they’re practicing, they’re meeting, they’re lifting, they’re running, they’re doing all those things. They don’t want to jeopardize all that, so when they leave here they’re doing the right things and that’s all we can do. It gives them purpose,” said UofL’s head coach.
“In my opinion, if they end up opting out of this fall, what are our guys going to do? What’s going to be their purpose at that point? These guys have been playing football most of their lives and we’re in the fall and in the fall we play football, that’s what we do. So what are we going to do at that point? We have all these protocols, we’re testing, we’re doing all these things to prevent any spread of this virus. But they’re 18-22-year-olds. Do we think they’re just going to sit in their room 24 hours a day? It’s not going to happen, that’s the reality of it. (Football) gives them purpose, it gives them structure and it enables them to stay safe. Yes, football is a contact sport, but if the teams we’re playing are doing the same things we’re doing, then we feel like it’s going to be a safe environment for them to go out there and play.”
Satterfield is just one voice among the chorus of coaches lobbying to play football this fall. Not everyone makes the most valid or coherent points, but I think we can all agree that this exhausting game of yo-yo needs to end.