B1G’s 21-Day COVID Protocol Meant Nobody to Kick or Punt for Minnesota vs Michigan

Photo: David Berding/Getty Images

How did we get here? How did we get to a point where the Big Ten conference is so stubborn in its drive to link Myocarditis to COVID-19 in athletes, that the Minnesota Gophers football team lost both their kicker and punter before Saturday night’s loss to Michigan, because of it?

As sports leagues started returning to play throughout the coronavirus pandemic, fans and players got quickly acquainted to a standard 7-14 day quarantine period for any athlete who tested COVID-positive. That wasn’t enough for the Big Ten, though. No, the Big Ten needed a reason to be more woke than everyone else.

Enter Myocarditis

They found that reason, with Myocarditis… and the media jumped on it. First, they cancelled the fall football season because of Myocarditis claims (that have since been all but disproved). When they finally backtracked on their terrible decision to cancel football, subsequently announcing an 8-game conference-only fall season, it came with a 21-day mandatory sit-out period for any player who tested positive.

The league wanted more time for cardiac testing, they said.

Reminder, the Big Ten is THE ONLY major sports governing body that is requiring this ridiculous 21-day dismissal for any positive test. By requiring the additional time, they are telling every other major college and professional sports league, that the Big Ten is smarter than they are (and obviously more woke).

Fleck (Kind of) Tried to Warn Us

Fleck was warning media about these COVID-related absences all week but he didn’t tell us who would be out, or for how long. We didn’t know if it was due to personal opt-out decisions or if Gophers would be missing because of positive tests. It turned out to be both.

Minnesota lost the right side of their offensive line (Daniel Faalele/Curtis Dunlap) and a starting linebacker (Braelen Oliver) to what we think are opt-outs (PJ won’t confirm). But as gametime neared… the outlook vs Michigan worsened.

First, it was reported that Minnesota’s new Australian punter, Mark Crawford, was in street clothes during pregame warmups. Then, after warming up and reportedly kicking 40-yard bombs before the game… kicker, Michael Lantz, didn’t play either.

Why? Because COVID-19 protocol.

Since both guys were on the field before the game, we can only assume they were both healthy but held out because of positive tests older than 14 days, but younger than 21. If they had tested positive in the last two weeks, they’d still be quarantining, under Big Ten protocols.

While Fleck wouldn’t completely confirm this information in his postgame presser, he pretty much confirmed it… And, Chris Fowler mentioned it once on the ESPN telecast too. Here are both.

I’m not here blaming Big Ten COVID-19 protocols for why Minnesota lost to Michigan last night. The Wolverines completely dominated every facet of Saturday’s game and they deserved to win. The Gophers deserved to lose. I’ll have more written later tonight on what the Gophers need to fix. But, PJ Fleck and the Gopher coaching staff had to change the way they schemed this game, because they didn’t have any fucking kickers.

Are we in Europe? Do we play football with our feet now in the United States? How do we allow a situation, in American football, where a game might be decided (before it starts) because two healthy kickers aren’t allowed on the field? Put in a “ghost” defender for them on kick and punt returns, if you have to…

We wouldn’t want them to exert any physical energy that might won’t force hearts to shut down from a disease that might isn’t dangerous to this age-group..

Different Game with a Kicker and Punter

The fake punt at our own 30-yard line doesn’t happen if Mark Crawford is available and that’s something Fleck admitted to in his postgame press conference. Two Michigan touchdowns took a total of 37 yards, because of the aforementioned failed fake punt + a squib kick the Wolverines returned all the way to the Minnesota 8-yard line. The Gophers tried punting twice in the first half and those punts combined for 49 yards (18, 31). In total, Michigan started FOUR 1st half possessions inside Minnesota territory.

All of that can be blamed on not having competent kickers and punters.

Again, Michigan beats Minnesota last night, even without COVID protocol taking away everyone on their team whose job is to kick a football. The Wolverines didn’t need the extra help. They’re a much better team than I thought they were and that sentiment runs across the entire offense and defense.

Without Daniel Faalele and Curtis Dunlap to anchor the right side, the Gopher OL didn’t stand a chance vs Aiden Hutchinson and Kwity Paye. On defense, Minnesota was completely undermatched vs a Michigan running game that’s about to take the Big Ten by storm. Lead by QB Joe Milton, the Wolverines ran for 253 yards last night and made a new Minnesota defense look like a DII squad.

COVID Bullshit Needs Go Away

But that’s all part of the game. You win some and you lose some. Sometimes you play well and other times you play like shit. Even in 2020, we’ve become used to additional rules, restrictions and abnormalities consuming our life.

But I just can’t take the unnecessary COVID bullshit anymore. I’m all for saving lives but that’s not what the virus is being used for now. It’s no longer about a pandemic. Instead, we’ve been pulled into a woke pissing contest that has the most progressive of golden splatter landing on our Minnesota boots.

Governor Walz is allowing people to fill up the Mall of America but continues his ban on fans in stadiums. Nobody can answer as to why… but then again, no media will write stories to bring attention to it either so why would he.

Now, the Big Ten is forcing the Minnesota to bench healthy players because they want to be the wokest conference in the land. Let’s just stop.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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