Polling Place: Are CFB coaches, administrators doing all they can to keep players safe?

There certainly are those who believe college football simply won’t — and perhaps shouldn’t — happen in 2020. Meanwhile, ill-fated or not, the sport marches on.

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Illinois v Nebraska

How resolutely will Illinois’ Lovie Smith and his fellow college coaches look after players?

Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

There certainly are those who believe college football simply won’t — and perhaps shouldn’t — happen in 2020.

Meanwhile, the sport marches on — ill-fated or not — toward the start of what’s scheduled to be a slightly shortened regular season.

Across the country, training camps opened, or at least were scheduled to open, earlier this week. At one of those places, Illinois, it was announced by the school that no fewer than 18 football players had tested positive for COVID-19 since reporting to campus. But Illinois also intends to test players daily, which is more than most schools can say.

At Illinois and everywhere else, some level of debate exists: Is enough being done to protect students? For this week’s “Polling Place” — your weekly home for Sun-Times sports polls on Twitter — we focused that question on football.

Broadly speaking, can football coaches and administrators be trusted to do all they can to keep players safe?

“They want to keep the players safe, but that’s secondary to bringing in the [millions of] dollars that keep the athletic departments afloat and pay the coaches’ salaries,” @howardmoore611 commented.

That’s a “no” vote — there was a landslide of those — and a fairly cynical one at that.

On a lighter note, we asked about watching fan-free hockey on TV, and why not? The Blackhawks are making it pretty entertaining as they hold their own very early in the playoffs.

“I really don’t watch hockey for the crowd,” @PeterGaeta was helpful enough to point out.

Fair enough. We also asked about Cubs closer (OK, former closer) Craig Kimbrel, whose future in that role is a big, fat question mark.

“Four-run lead, minimum,” @TBGOfficial_ wrote. “At this point, he just needs to get through an inning.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? On to the polls:

Poll No. 1: As college football training camps open this week, do you trust that coaches and administrators are doing all they can to keep players safe?

Upshot: There’s a reason for the uptick in players — including six at Maryland on Friday — who are opting out of the season. And it’s more than understandable that athletes in the Pac-12, Big Ten and Mountain West have banded together and outlined lists of demands in the name of safety. Clearly, our voters have their doubts that college players ought to be slobberknocking in camps right now or any time soon.

Poll No. 2: How much are you enjoying fan-free playoff hockey for the Blackhawks?

Upshot: Starting with Game 1 of their qualifying series against the Oilers in Edmonton, Alberta, the Hawks proved they weren’t about to get run over like an empty milk carton in the path of a cement truck. That alone has made them a fun postseason watch. It undoubtedly would be even more exciting under traditional circumstances — screaming fans in the seats, and games in Chicago, too — but voters are digging things as they are. “As long as Pat [Foley] and Eddie [Olczyk] are doing the games,” @MGoldstick commented, right on the money. 

Poll No. 3: Should the Cubs give up on Craig Kimbrel as their closer?

Upshot: “Give him more opportunities, only in non-save situations,” @PrattKap suggested. Wait, isn’t that the same as saying give up on Kimbrel — owner of a hideous 8.49 ERA in 27 Cubs appearances — as a closer? That’s where roughly half of voters stand, which, let’s be honest, probably won’t sway manager David Ross one way or the other.

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