How players handled the COVID-19 season

Saturday night after winning a home game in the afternoon is one of the best times to become a college football player.

Family and loved ones usually wait with congratulatory hugs. Then there is a nice dinner and maybe more partying with his teammates and friends. Few things blow up a college town like a football victory.

But not this season.

I would go home pretty much, lay down on my couch, watch (video) clippings from the game like two or three times. Probably go get food, ”said Notre-Dame attacking tackle Liam Eichenberg.

To face a pandemic, players have had to sacrifice a large part of their lives outside of the game, as well as some of the best aspects of being a part of a team.

To reach the playoffs, No.1 Alabama, No.2 Clemson, No.3 Ohio State and No.4 Notre Dame had to do a combined 37-2 on the land and coronavirus at the bay.

It has been incredibly difficult, said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. I’m just telling them not to give up what they want most for what they want right now. It really is that simple. And the teams that do it best and manage the best are the ones that will finish the best.

It took a lot of COVID-19[feminine[feminine testing, and the anxiety of knowing the next test could be the one that puts a season on hold, and the little time you spend with someone outside of the squad.

Even when the players were together, there were both literal and figurative obstacles to bonding with teammates.

Eating together as a team, we do it with a glass separator between us, Notre-Dame catcher Ben Skowronek said on Monday during Media Zoom sessions for the PSC. I miss those meals and just get to know the people in the locker room. All that.

Another quirk caused by the pandemic: four days before the New Year’s semifinals, playoff participants were still on their respective campuses.

Alabama faces Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl moved to the Dallas Cowboys home in Arlington, Texas. Clemson and Ohio State meet at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in a rematch of last year’s thrilling semi-final.

Typically, teams arrive at their semi-final venue about five or six days in advance. Most of the preparation for the game has already been completed. In the host city, there are media availability, practices and one or two stages at the stadium. There are off-court activities, outings and meals. In addition, free time for the players.

Going to a bowl site is always what you work for, said Clemson linebacker Baylon Spector. It is very funny. You can do a lot of different things.

As for this week, Spector said, “Tonight we had a bingo night. We took advantage of it as much as we could.

The teams will arrive in the host cities on Wednesday.

Alabama and Clemson have given players some freedom to be with their families at Christmas and other breaks this season, but with strict orders to hide and keep their distance, even from loved ones.

Notre Dame and the State of Ohio have been more careful, keeping their players on campus over the recent holiday weekend.

There is still more COVID-19[feminine[feminine tests to be done, and each team has learned from experience that nothing is guaranteed this season.

It was really stressful, but the main thing was to try to keep a calm mind and do the things we needed to do to be successful, said Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses.

Alabama had a game postponed because of an opponent COVID-19[feminine[feminine epidemic, and he played the Iron Bowl against Auburn without coach Nick Saban after testing positive.

Notre Dame had a virus outbreak that interrupted its season for about two weeks at the end of September.

Clemson star Trevor Lawrence missed two games, including the Tigers’ regular season loss to Notre Dame, after contracting COVID-19[feminine[feminine.

Ohio State has only played six games after the Big Ten started in late October, losing two games to their opponents’ COVID-19 issues and one to theirs.

What struck me the most, what I find to be the most difficult, is how one day you can train and the next day you are away for a few weeks due to COVID, the lineman said. Ohio State All-American offensive Wyatt Davis, who did not contract the virus. It’s just a day to day thing. Hold guys to a standard that you can’t go out and hang out with people. You can’t go see your family.

Davis’s friend and linemate Josh Myers signed a contract COVID-19[feminine[feminine. Myers said 10 days of isolation was terrible, mostly because of boredom and inactivity. He said he had no lingering effect from the virus.

Tigers linebacker Mike Jones said winning made the restrictions easier to deal with and Clemson had done a good job of implementing and enforcing the protocols. After a while it seemed normal, but it was anything but the usual college experience.

You know, it’s kinda weird not being able to hang out with your friends all the time, Jones said. Not being able to see your family after the game. Don’t come home on your week off because you don’t want to risk it. (No) celebrating after wins and stuff like that. Be with your friends on the bus for away games.

It’s a lot. We all had these trials and were able to overcome them.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo on https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen on https://westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/

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More AP College Football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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