Les Miles: Players opting out because of coronavirus pandemic then 'opt into the pandemic'

Nick Bromberg
·3 mins read

Les Miles is one of the many college football coaches who believe players are safer playing football in 2020. during the coronavirus pandemic. And, in true Miles fashion, he has a unique way of expressing that sentiment.

Miles said Thursday that if players “opt out because of the pandemic then they opt into the pandemic. Last I saw it, the pandemic was worldwide, OK?”

Here’s his full quote, via the Topeka Capital-Journal:

“If they opt out because of the pandemic, then they opt into the pandemic,” Miles said at a news conference. “The last I saw it, the pandemic was worldwide, OK? So I don’t know what their advantage is to turn at this point away from what would be a good finish to a college career and opportunity to advance their abilities and then have a choice whether to go off to the NFL or to stay and compete. So we’d love to have them stay and compete.”

Miles made the comments about players opting out as he said defensive lineman Antione Frazier would be opting out of the 2020 season and entering the transfer portal.

Numerous players across college football have decided to skip the 2020 season because of the pandemic and some like Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley and Penn State LB Micah Parsons (before the Big Ten postponed the football season) have started preparing for the 2021 NFL draft. Other players who return to school in 2021 won’t lose a year of eligibility. The NCAA said last week that every player in a fall sport would get an extra year.

Football programs have coronavirus protocols

Earlier this month, Alabama coach Nick Saban noted that players were much more liable to get coronavirus somewhere else on campus than they were at the football facilities or on the field. And he’s right. The social distancing and mask-wearing policies that athletic departments have implemented are significant. And they’re only in place in those football facilities and not at dorms, apartments or even parties.

But players aren’t spending all of their waking hours at football facilities. College athletic departments aren’t set up like the NBA, WNBA or NHL’s bubbles.

That’s why it’s hard to say that a player opting out of a football season is opting “into the pandemic.” Workouts and practices have been paused recently at Louisiana-Monroe and East Carolina because of coronavirus outbreaks among the teams.

And since COVID-19 is still so new, we don’t know what its longterm health effects are. The risks of COVID-19, both known and unknown, were a big reason why the Big Ten and Pac-12 postponed their football seasons. If a player is concerned about the potential health effects from coronavirus or any other related reason, they have every right to make the choice not to play.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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