Just a day after a group of Pac-12 football players went public with a potential boycott of the college football season, a very ugly situation is brewing within one of the league’s member programs. According to the parents of Washington State football wide receiver Kassidy Woods, he and other players who shared the list of demands put forth by the group have been effectively cut by new head coach Nick Rolovich and the program.
Washington State appears to be trying to treat these players like COVID-19 opt-outs. Per Pac-12 rules, those players will have their scholarships honored. It is also presumed that anyone opting out for health concerns in 2020 will be able to return in 2021.
According to John Woods, the father of Kassidy Woods, that doesn’t appear to be the case for his son and the others who were asked to clean out their lockers. “If you’re apart of that movement, part of all the unity movement and what’s going on, that’s going to force me to kind of release you of your duties from this football team for this year,” Woods said, paraphrasing the message of first-year Washington State football head coach Nick Rolovich to Theo Lawson of The Spokesman-Review. “Now you’re going to say on scholarship this year, but I don’t know what the future plans for next year (are). Then he told him Monday to clean out his locker.”
That is a particularly galling approach by Wazzu, if true, considering it doesn’t sound like these players intended to opt out of the year at this point in the ongoing situation. ESPN’s Bomani Jones thinks it may be a fatal mistake. Washington State football is already a tough place to recruit to; Rolovich can’t afford to come off as anti-player to this level and keep that job, he argues.
this will cost rolovich his job. maybe this week, may take a year. but these hardline stances will make success impossible. people don’t wanna go to that damn school as it is.
— bomani (@bomani_jones) August 2, 2020
As former Oregon and long time NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz said, this could basically come down to which side wins out based on two very different interpretations of what happened here. In any case, Rolovich and Washington State football really need to lend some clarity.
Feels like the job status of Rolo tomorrow will be the test of which side of the WSU story is more true. Either the players opted out of the season for any reason, or didn’t opt out but were forced out because of their support for the boycott.
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) August 2, 2020
We’re just scratching the surface on how big this situation may grow. According to The Athletic, over 400 players were involved in discussions that led to Saturday’s Players’ Tribune release.
A conversation among Cal teammates led to Zoom calls with friends at other schools. Which led to a group text of 400-plus. Which led to today.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 2, 2020
That averages out to over 33 players per Pac-12 program. We don’t know how serious those players will be in not playing when it comes down to it, but if there’s a world in which another 30 Washington State football players were willing to put it on the line after this, it would do significant damage to the Cougars’ chances of fielding a competitive team this season.
We know that there are millions of dollars on the line for every college football program this fall. If hundreds of Pac-12 football players are involved in this, they may just have the leverage to affect real change.