Trevor Lawrence's positive COVID test puts everything — Heisman Trophy, Playoff, etc. — on hold
Welcome to 2020, when thinking anything is a certainty is a foolish endeavor.
Trevor Lawrence was and is the surest thing in college football. Even the guy who has never missed a college game and has been slotted as the future No. 1 overall draft pick for nearly the last 2 years is suddenly not a sure thing.
In case you missed it, the Clemson quarterback tested positive for COVID Thursday. He’ll miss this weekend’s game against Boston College, which Clemson was already a 4-touchdown favorite for.
Per the ACC’s protocols, Lawrence will be required to quarantine for 10 days from the day of the positive test. If that came Thursday when the news broke, that would mean Lawrence will miss Clemson’s showdown with Notre Dame, which is 9 days away.
It’s exactly the type of loop that this year was inevitably going to throw us all for.
Clemson has been the unquestioned No. 1 team in America, though obviously the competition hasn’t really been elevated just yet. The best player on the best team potentially missing 2 games is something that can absolutely have a great impact on the sport, though it doesn’t mean it’ll flip the sport on its head.
It’s just on hold. Again, it’s 2020. Of course it’s on hold.
We’re talking about a player who was the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. As of 2 days ago, Lawrence was -155 to win the award, and his next-closest competition was Mac Jones at +265 and Justin Fields at +400. After that? A bunch of guys who were 16-to-1. For them, yeah, an opportunity just opened up. In a condensed season, missing potentially 2 games is more significant than it was in years past.
The better question now is how this will be viewed by the masses. Will Lawrence, if he’s able to return in a couple of weeks and continue shredding defenses, be treated by Heisman voters like someone who suffered a minor injury?
Perhaps the better question is what the Playoff selection committee does with this information. If a Lawrence-less Clemson loses to Notre Dame, is that a death sentence for the Tigers? And if Lawrence, for some reason, can’t return, are we talking about the end of Clemson’s dynasty?
Eeeeeeeeasy now. Let’s not jump to those conclusions just yet. Let’s instead remember a few things.
For starters, we saw the selection committee give Clemson the benefit of the doubt for the Syracuse loss in 2017 when Kelly Bryant suffered a mid-game injury. The Tigers still got the 1-seed with that blemish.
And there’s something else to keep in mind. The way the ACC is set up this year, there are no divisions. If a Clemson team with a Lawrence-less loss to Notre Dame gets a rematch in the ACC Championship and avenges that loss with Lawrence, that would send a pretty clear message to the selection committee. At least it should.
Let’s also remember that there’s a good chance that Clemson just continues rolling because well, that’s what Dabo Swinney has been doing for the past 6 seasons. Travis Etienne is somehow still there, and in typical Clemson fashion, Lawrence’s understudy is former 5-star DJ Uiagalelei. With Clemson cruising to wins of at least 3 scores in all 6 matchups this season, Uiagalelei played in 5 games already this year. It might not have been like what Tua Tagovailoa did in garbage time in 2017, but even that seems significant at a time like now.
Still, though. This is the first time we saw a high-profile quarterback test positive for COVID and potentially change the landscape of the sport. There’s no bigger name than Lawrence, both for the college crowd and for the NFL Draft crowd.
And in case you were wondering, no, this isn’t a Nick Saban situation:
Because i see a couple of questions.
The SEC has a protocol that allows someone who tested positive ans is asymptomatic to have follow testing (3 PCRs 24hr apart) to determine if 1st positive was false.
1) ACC does not have this protocol.
2) Lawrence has symptoms, Swinney said
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) October 30, 2020
Fans of contenders — and perhaps those who are just sick of Clemson — won’t necessarily lose sleep over Lawrence’s diagnosis. But for those of us who enjoy watching one of the best quarterbacks the sport has seen in the 21st century, Thursday’s news was deflating for the simple fact that there are only so many opportunities left to watch Lawrence spin it at the college level (and obviously the hope is that someone who has symptoms makes a full and speedy recovery).
College football is an ever-shifting sport with names that the casual fan doesn’t take time to remember. Lawrence is one of the exceptions. In 2020, everything is ever-shifting.
Thursday was an unfortunate reminder; not even Lawrence is an exception.