SEC, LSU not bowing to pressure from other leagues

The oceans of college football remain turbulent, caught in the converging storms of COVID-19 and players nationally wanting their voices heard by administrators.

But the SEC, sailing on the good ship “It Just Means More,” is staying the course with its 14 schools on board while other major conferences are on the verge of never leaving the dock until the spring.

While the Big Ten and the Pac 12 are the two most prominent Power 5 Conferences ready to call it quits and the Big 12 is split in half of which teams want and don’t want to play, the SEC and ACC are all in.

A couple of weeks ago when the SEC announced it would play a 10-game schedule against only SEC teams, there was a reason that league commissioner Greg Sankey said the season wouldn’t start until Sept. 26 with the beginning of practice scheduled for Aug. 17.

“Take time when making decisions, this is all new and you’ll gain better information each day,’” Sankey wrote in a Monday tweet.

Then Tuesday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Sankey said unlike the hurried Big Ten, the SEC has more time to watch how things play out.

“I’d keep in mind we haven’t made final, final decisions,” Sankey said. “There is still some time, but we’ve set a start date. I’d be encouraged by that if I’m a college football fan. We announced opponents. I’d be encouraged by that. We have some medical care guidelines. That’s encouraging.

“We’re still today. On Sunday, it was all over if I read social media, but we’re still here.”

So are his league schools, including defending national champion LSU and head coach Ed Orgeron.

“The easiest thing to do right now is say no,” Orgeron said. “As far as the SEC, as far as I know, we’re still gathering information. We’re still fighting to play, we want to play, we’ve always spoke like we wanted to play and I believe in our commissioner and I believe in our athletic director and I know we’re going to do the right thing for our players.

“We have the best care for our players that they can get anywhere. Our players feel safe and I know that our players and most of the players around the country want to play. We want to compete for our players and find out what’s best for them. Now at the end, if our players can’t play, I for one am not going to put them in harm’s way and they know that. I have 100% confidence they’re going to make the right decision.”

One LSU player, senior starting defensive end Neil Farrell Jr. of Mobile, has opted out of the 2020 season after his grandmother contracted COVID-19.

“He wanted to go back home and be with her,” Orgeron said of Farrell. “I told him ‘Neil go home, come back next year, come back in great shape and have a great senior year.’ “

The Tigers have one week left of football school, which consists of walk-throughs. Orgeron noted that last Saturday’s walk-through was “one of the best we’ve ever had, we were ready to play if there had been a game.”

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Ron Higgins

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