This week's college football news cycle began with Kirk Herbstreit dumping a 100-gallon jug of cold water on the idea of playing college football as scheduled this fall.
“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a vaccine,” he said. “I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it… Next thing you know you got a locker room full of guys that are sick. And that’s on your watch? I wouldn’t want to have that.”
The comments drew a hefty amount of blowback. Mizzou head coach Eli Drinkwitz even apologized for a comment he made about Herbstreit's comments. (In retrospect, the comment was benign and the apology was probably unnecessary, but c'est la vie.) After all, it's nothing more than one man's opinion, and all he did was quote his understanding of medical experts -- not issue a royal decree.
Still, the blowback was understandable. This is a highly emotional time we're all living in: locked indoors with no end in sight, watching the world around us crumble bit by bit. A lot of people have a lot to lose if college football isn't played this fall, and Herbstreit voiced -- confidently, I might add -- the fear all of us have quietly confronted over the past couple weeks. It's not hard to see why people would get mad at a guy they view speaking a bunch of bad juju into the universe, especially when that guy happens to be the most prominent voice in the sport.
Well, on Friday another of the sport's most prominent voices arrived with the antidote to Herbstreit's cold reality.
While we have no indication that he was responding directly to Herbstreit, Dabo Swinney told the local Clemson media in a teleconference that he was ready to roundhouse kick the coronavirus straight out of America with his trademark brand of relentless positivity. (Transcript via Larry Williams of Tiger Illustrated.)
I have no idea of Dabo is right, just as I have no idea if Herbstreit is, either. No one is, and that uncertainty is what makes this all so difficult.
But this period -- the weeks we've all collectively served at home, and the weeks still ahead of us -- have proven to be a battle of mental attrition, and, if you're going to expose your brain to Herbstreit's caution, it's important to chase it with a shot of Dabo's optimism.