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The media won’t have access to Syracuse’s training camp practices this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the football team is organizing regular Zoom interviews with head coach Dino Babers and select players while also providing film from the Ensley Athletic Center. With “Camp Notes,” The Daily Orange’s beat reporters bring the latest news, observations and analysis as the Orange gear up for an unprecedented 2020 season. Follow along here and on Twitter.
When Dino Babers was last made available to the media Thursday, he was optimistic that there would still be a college football season this fall. The Power 5 conferences released updated season schedules that largely included conference-only games, and the Orange prepared to open with their first training camp practice that afternoon.
Babers’ optimism hasn’t changed in the four days since. But the situation has.
Both within SU’s program and at a national level, the prospects of a college football season this fall appear to be dwindling, even while players around the country are uniting together under the #WeWantToPlay hashtag. Despite players’ statements on Twitter in support of a season, the Big Ten is reportedly on the verge of canceling its season, according to the Detroit Free Press.
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Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence issued a statement Monday on Twitter expressing support for a season this fall, using the #WeWantToPlay hasthag. Babers didn’t comment directly on Lawrence’s statement but said he had read it. He didn’t know if his players were directly involved in the #WeWantToPlay movement, but he said his players had been talking with athletes from other schools.
A council of players representing the Syracuse football team presented Babers with a list of concerns shortly after the head coach’s press conference Thursday, Syracuse.com reported. Instead of participating in the first day of practice, the players sat out and held team meetings, some of which included Director of Athletics John Wildhack. Babers called the discussions “Kumbaya meetings.”
Testing was one of the players’ listed concerns. The athletes wanted to be tested twice a week and to see their Atlantic Coast Conference opponents and nonconference opponent Liberty following the same protocols to ensure their safety.
“It’s because they’ve been asking questions that are way up the ladder that we’re still waiting for the answers for,” Babers said. “When it gets down to their level, and they’re talking to their moms and dads and everyone else, then it’s frustrating. Like it feels like they’re being kept out of the loop, when really the loop is not completed yet.”
Wildhack announced Friday that SU would test its athletes twice a week during the season instead of every other week, a schedule that was implemented throughout summer workouts. Babers declined to comment on whether the Orange’s scheduled nonconference game with Liberty was included on the players’ list of concerns.
“I thought some of those things internally, we could handle,” Babers said. “I thought some of those things we had to go to the ACC level, and some of the things were out of our hands.”
Babers continues to insist, as he did Thursday, that he believes the Orange would be in the top four when it comes to a lack of positive tests within the program throughout summer workouts. He declined to comment specifically on a recent letter by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh that highlighted how few cases the Wolverines had, but he hinted that SU’s numbers were even better than the 11 reported at UM.
“Right now, it’s safer to be an athlete at Syracuse University than to be walking around the state of New York,” Babers said.
Syracuse football isn’t practicing Monday due to a scheduled off day, and it’s unclear whether the Orange will still have a season to prepare for within a few days. The ACC is still a full go, Babers said. He’s going to prepare for the season while its still scheduled, even if it may never come.
“I’m as confident as I was when I started. These conferences are individual things,” Babers said. “Until they tell us we can’t, we’re going to act like we can (play).”
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