Florida State head coach Mike Norvell said they did not feel comfortable playing Clemson on Saturday because Clemson allowed a player who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday to travel with the team, knowing he was symptomatic for the virus.
“This is the first time we have experienced a Friday test come back positive from either team,” Norvell said to reporters on Monday. “I can tell you that the information that we received from our opponent there Friday night is where the concern really escalated. The fact that a symptomatic player participated throughout the course of the week and made the trip to Tallahassee raised a lot of concerns.”
The problem with Norvell’s statement is that the player in question was not showing any symptoms of COVID-19 at all when the Tigers made the trip to Tallahassee, Fla. In fact, the player did not participate in any practices on Monday and Tuesday, either, when he was showing mild symptoms. However, he was tested three times and each result came back negative.
After passing the three COVID-19 tests and not showing any more symptoms, the player was cleared by the Clemson medical staff to participate in Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices. He then was allowed to travel with the team on Friday. He was A-symptomatic for three straight days before a positive result from the ACC’s independent test came back Friday night after Clemson arrived in Tallahassee.
At that time, Clemson continued to follow the conference’s protocols as they isolated the player from the team and then safely flew him back to Clemson by himself.
However, Norvell implied he and the Florida State medical personnel were not comfortable with the situation.
“When you sit there and you get that information, that is where, and I being a part of the call, and listening to our medical advisors, that is where the main concerns lied,” he said. “Everybody can handle things differently in their programs. We are not concerned about any other situation other than to assure that our players are protected and that they could trust the process and the procedures. So when they step on the field we have done everything in our power to keep them away from the risk of a high risk.”
Norvell even took a shot at Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney after Swinney came out on Sunday night and said, “This game was not canceled because of COVID. It was just an excuse to cancel the game.”
“Football coaches are not doctors,” Norvell said. “Some of us might think that we are, but there is a reason why those advisors are able to make the decisions from the information that is provided and that is something as a coach that we will continue to do everything in our power to assure the health and wellbeing of our players and helping them stay safe throughout the process.”
However, it has been Florida State’s program that has had multiple players opt out of their program for not feeling safe with the COVID-19 protocols in place, including a near mutiny in the summer over the issue. But Norvell was attacking Clemson’s on Monday.
“When we have a player that is showing symptoms, we keep him away from the facility,” the Florida State coach said. “Not only is the health and wellbeing important for our players, but it is also important for our opponents. We have had two separate incidents of players and coaches who had symptoms that did not go on trips or traveled with the team to the site because of those reasons and the protocols we have in place.”
Norvell is attacking the same Clemson program that has not had single player opt out to date or say they feel unsafe when it comes to the procedures the program has in place. Also keep in mind Clemson is one of the few athletic departments that has been very transparent with its COVID-19 numbers and has had one of the safest campuses in the country when it comes to containing the virus.
Clemson held out Heisman Trophy hopeful Trevor Lawrence from the biggest game of the year against Notre Dame, even though he could have played. Lawrence had tested positive for the virus more than 10 days before the trip to South Bend, but Clemson wanted to make sure everything, including his heart, was cleared of any side effects.
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