Arkansas Razorbacks Football Players Say “We Want to Play”


by Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – While reports circulated Monday morning that the Big Ten perched on the verge of cancelling its football season because of the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and the other four Power Five conferences continue weighing the pros and cons of trying to play 2020 football, Arkansas Razorbacks Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek and Arkansas Football Coach Sam Pittman tweeted support for the We Want to Play movement initiated by several college football players. 

We Want to Play started Sunday on social media by Clemson running back Darien Rencher, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Stanford defensive end Dylan Boles among others while Power Five Commissioners from the SEC, which includes Arkansas, Big Ten, Pac 12, ACC and Big 12 discussed Sunday and Monday their concerns for the season.

Yurachek, whose son Jake is a walk-on linebacker with the Razorbacks, tweeted “On behalf of the @RazorbackFB team (that includes my son) and each of @ArkRazorbacks student-athletes that I represent, serve, support, care for, fight for and love. #WeWantToPlay.” Pittman tweeted: “The way our student athletes have handled these uncertain times is incredible and our staff is so proud of them. As the Head Coach of @RazorbackFB#WeWantToPlay.”

Currently the SEC  revised scheduled a 10-game season starting Sept. 26  instead of  the original game 12-game season starting the Sept. 5 Saturday week with four nonconference games and four SEC games.

Monday afternoon SEC Commissioner, Greg Sankey tweeted: “Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: “Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day.” @SEC has been deliberate at each step since March…slowed return to practice…delayed 1st game to respect start of fall semester. Developed testing protocols…We know concerns remain. We have never had a FB season in a COVID-19 environment. Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying. We support, educate and care for student-athletes every day, and will continue to do so…every day.”

Appearing Monday afternoon on the Paul Finebaum Show, Yurachek reaffirmed his faith in Sankey and the plans put together by the SEC Medical Task Force and its protocols including  delaying the start of preseason practice from Aug. 7 to Aug. 17 and the revamped schedule for a Sept. 26 season start instead of Sept. 5. “We want to continue to work that plan,” Yurachek said. “We’re not gonna panic because another Power 5 conference may be making a different decision. In the Southeastern Conference, Greg Sankey does an incredible job leading us. Part of his leadership in the past several months has been for us to be patient and take time in making decisions. These are some really impactful decisions we’re having to make and there’s no need to rush into making those decisions.”

Regarding the current medical state of Pittman’s Razorbacks, Yurachek said, “I’m not a medical professional. “I like to say during this time I’m an AD not an MD. I lean heavily on our medical team here at the University of Arkansas as well as our SEC Medical Task Force. I believe they met and put together a pretty good plan for our student-athletes. A plan that we have technically been implementing since June 8. If you look at testing right now for our football program we have zero active cases and we have zero student-athletes currently quarantined on our campus. We’re ready to get started with practice next Monday.” That said, Yurachek of course  circumstances created by the virus could change his thinking. “That could change in the next two or three weeks and I may change my opinion about that based on some additional information we may receive,” Yurachek said.

The Big Ten and Pac 12 had announced playing only games within their  conferences. The ACC and Big 12 each planned to play one nonconference game and otherwise play only within their leagues.

The Mid-American Conference became the first of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences cancel the 2020 football season as has the University of Connecticut, a FBS football independent.

Nine leagues, starting with the Ivy League, in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) have cancelled their 2020  fall sports seasons.

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