Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse football’s players flexed their power late last week when they sat out the first two practices of preseason camp.
It was a decision that SU head coach Dino Babers said he was in favor of, after speaking with the team’s leadership council about a host of issues. First and foremost: the Orange players were concerned that other Atlantic Coast Conference programs might not be taking the coronavirus pandemic as seriously as SU. Two days of ‘Kumbaya’ meetings proceeded.
Redshirt senior defensive lineman Josh Black shed some light on what, specifically, Syracuse’s players are asking for in a virtual press conference Thursday.
“The things that we really want and we’re really pushing for is all the ACC schools be mandated to follow the safety guidelines, third-party testing, all of that stuff,” Black said. “No bias with the testing. Everything is fair. Everything is the safest it can be in the ACC.
“Because it’s not just about us at Syracuse. It’s about the entire conference when you’re looking at things. We’re all football players. We all want to play a season.”
Black said he was following the ongoing situation at Florida State via Twitter this morning. Three FSU players spoke out against school administration in how they’ve handled Covid-19 testing under first-year head coach Mike Norvell. Such situations are exactly the ones that concern players like Black, who is eager to show what he can do as a defensive end in coordinator Tony White’s 3-3-5 scheme this fall.
The individuals who voice concerns internally or externally, he implied, do so for the good of not only their teammates, but the rest of the ACC and the country at large. SU’s players, including quarterback Tommy DeVito, have been in touch with their conference peers as they’ve tried to navigate the lead-up to a potential season.
“Safety is our No. 1 priority,” Black said. “Waking up this morning, I checked Twitter. I saw the things going on at Florida State and it kind of brings you to ask yourself a couple questions. I don’t know the full details so I’m not going to go into that because if I don’t know (something), I’m not going to say anything. But you start to question yourself, ask yourself things.
“Here at Syracuse, we have no problem. I feel 100 percent comfortable with all the safety protocols we have here. But it’s the whole conference when you think about bigger picture. Are teams following these safety guidelines to a T as well as us? That’s kind of the biggest concern going on.”
The ACC presidents are scheduled to meet Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and receive a report from the medical advisory committee, according to multiple reports. The expectation, reportedly, is that the conference will push forward with its plan to play this fall.
However, the details in a potentially revised health and safety plan would be of great importance to players like Black. The Big 12 announced it will test three times per week this year. Will the ACC match that, or at least meet the twice-weekly plan that SU athletic director John Wildhack put forth at the request of SU’s players?
And, as Black asked, what measures are being put in place to ensure that administrators and coaches are following protocol? It only took two days from the Big Ten and Pac-12 canceling their seasons for a trio of FSU players to come forward and accuse a program of lying about test results.
Said Black: “We’re looking out for everyone in the conference and all over the country, too. This isn’t an individual effort. It’s a team effort to really slow down this virus and make sure we can play the (safest) season we can.”
MORE ORANGE FOOTBALL COVERAGE
ACC could make decision on college football after Thursday meeting
More testing? Delay the season? 4 big questions still looming before Syracuse football season begins
Who will be the ACC’s next commissioner? Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud will have a say
Should the ACC cancel its football season as other conferences call it quits? (poll)
The Big 12 plays on, with coronavirus testing 3 times a week and heart health checks
Stephen Bailey covers Syracuse football for The Post-Standard/syracuse.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Stephen_Bailey1. Have a question or story idea? Reach out anytime via email.
Thanks for visiting syracuse.com. Quality local journalism has never been more important, and your subscription matters. Not a subscriber yet? Please consider subscribing to our Orange Insider package.
©2020 Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.
Visit Syracuse Media Group, N.Y. at www.syracuse.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.