One day after Dabo Swinney suggested Florida State ducked last Saturday’s game using a Clemson player’s positive COVID-19 test as an excuse, Seminoles coach Mike Norvell emphatically denied the charge, saying the decision to postpone the game was made entirely by medical personnel.
Asked if COVID-19 was the reason for the postponement, Norvell said, “Absolutely,” and reiterated that his coaches and players were eager to play Saturday before the school’s medical staff determined it unsafe to do so following news that one Clemson player who’d shown symptoms earlier in the week had been allowed to travel with the team to Tallahassee, Florida.
“Football coaches are not doctors. Some of us might think we are, but there’s a reason why medical advisors make decisions based on the information that is provided,” Norvell said. “It’s unfortunate that opportunity has been delayed, but there’s a reason people making those decisions have that responsibility.”
Norvell said he first learned of the positive test on Clemson’s team during a standard Friday evening call between medical professionals at each school. According to FSU, Clemson informed the school of a symptomatic player who had participated in practices and traveled with the team. Clemson noted that proper protocols were followed regarding masks and social distancing, and said the player was kept isolated during travel.
On a Saturday morning call that did not include the coaches, Norvell said it was determined by Florida State’s medical staff that it was unsafe to proceed with the game.
Clemson offered to retest players and staff and delay the game by a day or two, but FSU declined.
Swinney lambasted Florida State’s decision Sunday, suggesting that the Seminoles simply didn’t want to play.
Norvell said Monday that he’d attempted to contact Swinney after the decision was made Saturday morning, but the two did not connect.
“We were excited to play this game,” Norvell said. “We’re a young team that needs every rep we can get. I’m not concerned what any other coach says or thinks.”
Norvell tested positive for COVID-19 in October, a day before the team’s open date, and he subsequently missed the Seminoles’ rivalry game against Miami. He said his own experience with the virus has helped shape his cautious approach to mitigating spread.
While Florida State has not released testing numbers this year, a source said that the football team had not had a positive test result since Norvell’s.