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In this wild couple months of will there or won’t there be college football season, there has been a particularly negative reaction to reporters who are deemed to be rooting for the coronavirus to vanquish the season based on their tone. Last week, Stewart Mandel of The Athletic noted that he had received animosity in his Twitter mentions and story comments, acknowledged that his tone was not ideal, and asked for a reset.
On Sunday, presenting without comment a New York Times op-ed about college football being inessential, Mandel turned the replies off on the tweet:
Today, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports also turned off replies to his tweeted column which had Big Ten sources lol’ing at President Trump’s assertion that the conference’s return to play was on the one-yard-line:
“To say multiple sources denied the notion of the Big Ten playing immediately would not be strong enough. The sources heartily laughed at it,” Thamel wrote in the column. “The notion of playing around Thanksgiving is in embryonic discussion, and there’s a desire among coaches to start as early as possible. But ‘immediately’ is in another universe, especially with multiple Big Ten teams not even having players on campus right now.”
I guess this all depends on how you view the connotation of the word immediately. A return to play any time in October would to me represent a loss for Thamel here. In the vicinity of Thanksgiving would be a push even though he sounds skeptical of that. Later than that, which as we keep explaining would be a stupid idea, would be a win for him.
It’s interesting that Thamel does not appear to have had any introspection about his tweets and stories on this subject since being brashly wrong about college football season in July:
Pessimism in college football has spiraled to fatalism. Time to face reality: “No one is playing college football in the fall.” https://t.co/XFwaYVoSLM
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) July 13, 2020
We already know this has been proven wrong. Central Arkansas played Austin Peay this past weekend, there’s a slate of games on TV this weekend, and the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 remain on trajectories to play the season. Turning off replies spares Thamel of some of the vitriolic reminders of his past reporting and aggravation at the tone of his current story, but it’s not going to make his audience get over the idea that he’s trolling them on purpose with his presentation.
Information is flowing in such fluid ways. We have Dan Patrick, who was first to break the news about Big Ten presidents and chancellors voting to cancel the season, saying the conference is targeting an October 10th return to play. We have people laughing at that idea to Pete Thamel, who’s thrilled to parrot their anonymous opinions.
Ultimately, I don’t think there’s any person who can reliably predict how this is going to go with the Big Ten now. Commissioner Kevin Warren is seemingly abdicating his role as the meat shield for the presidents and chancellors. These taxpayer-paid one-percenters can stand their ground right now but the populist spotlight is about to be pointed their way and we’ll see how they react to that. If the Big Ten does actually return to play in October, remember the reporters who were adamant that wouldn’t happen.