Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
The Decatur Daily and The TimesDaily on the University of Alabama's football team and the college football season:
It’s the Sunday before New Year’s Day, and the Alabama Crimson Tide are in a familiar position: two wins away from yet another national championship.
Little else about the situation, however, is familiar at all.
To get to this point, coach Nick Saban and his team had to get past not only a daunting all-Southeastern Conference schedule, but COVID-19. Perhaps surprisingly, the former proved a lot easier than the latter, as Alabama carved a path of destruction through 11 of the 13 other SEC teams. The Tide only let things get exciting at the very end, letting the Florida Gators mount an ultimately futile second-half comeback attempt in the second half of the SEC Championship Game.
Alabama is now poised to face Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas, in one of the two New Year’s Day national championship semifinals. Clemson and Ohio State will meet that evening in New Orleans in the other semifinal match-up.
Most of the drama this season for the Tide — and most of the uncertainly — was off the field. Which games might end up having to be rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic? Which games might not be played at all? And, ultimately, just how meaningful would the 2020 college football season — the season that almost wasn’t — be?
It took some rescheduling and meant Alabama’s traditional regular season finale showdown with Auburn took place with two games remaining, and it meant playing one game without Saban on the sideline, but Alabama is now within sight of the end zone.
Saban tested positive for the new coronavirus twice. The first time turned out to be what the SEC later deemed a false positive, but the second time, Saban displayed mild COVID-19 symptoms and had to miss coaching his team against Auburn.
The Tide didn’t miss a step.
Yet all of this almost didn’t happen. As fall approached, one college football conference after another decided to delay or cancel its football season. Lower-division college football leagues canceled their seasons entirely. It had gotten to the point that the SEC and the Atlantic Coast Conference were just about the last ones standing.
A fall without football was a real possibility. But the SEC didn’t blink, and it put forth a plan for a delayed all-conference schedule.
That gamble has paid off. The SEC’s plan to play ball while doing the most possible to protect players and staff worked about as well as could be expected — and a lot better than many people expected.
Bowing to pressure from fans, players and even the White House, the Big Ten reversed its decision to cancel fall football and started play in late October.
The results have been mixed. Teams have dealt with COVID-19 outbreaks, and games have been rescheduled or canceled. Not every conference fared as well as the SEC did.
After a rash of cancellations, Ohio State ended up not playing enough games to qualify for the Big Ten’s championship game, which meant that the Big Ten simply changed the rules in the middle of the season to give Ohio State a pass. Now Ohio State, like Alabama, is two wins away from a national championship.
There’s no argument that the SEC crowned a legitimate champion this year, in spite of everything. But the national championship will probably have an asterisk beside it in most record books, and not just because Notre Dame got a spot that should have gone to Texas A&M.
Yet this, like Alabama’s presence in the playoffs, is familiar, too. It’s like the old days, when there were just postseason bowls and the Associated Press and coaches’ polls, and people argued about who the real national champion was.
The Dothan Eagle on the temperature threshold for warming centers in Dothan, Alabama:
There’s little doubt that Dothan is an exceedingly caring community. Charitable fundraisers usually hit their marks, the homeless community is shepherded by several benevolent organizations, and evacuees from devastating natural disasters are welcomed in our city while our public workers often go to the disaster site to lend assistance.
Likewise, our municipality and some charitable organizations and churches will open warming centers when the weather gets bitter, providing heated space for those whose homes have inadequate heating and those who have no homes.
We do these things because looking after our fellow man is the right thing to do.
However, we’re puzzled by the temperature threshold for the opening of warming centers. Locally, warming centers open when the temperature is expected to reach 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Overnight on Thursday, temperatures were expected to dip to 31 degrees. That’s below freezing but not quite cold enough to trigger warming stations; however, someone out in the elements would be hard-pressed notice a three-degree difference.
Perhaps the threshold should be raised, at least to a forecast of a sustained 33 degrees, giving those in need an opportunity to seek shelter before the temperature drops below freezing.
The Cullman Times on maintaining coronavirus safety guidelines despite rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines:
The rollout of the coronavirus vaccine has begun and while this is great news, we still have to maintain our vigilance against this virus by following healthcare guidelines to control the spread of the disease.
This week, the United States passed a grim benchmark: more than 300,000 people dead from COVID-19. That is a staggering number. In less than a year, we’ve come close to having as many U.S. casualties to this virus as we experienced in the four years of World War II.
Cullman County has reported 67 of those deaths and our hospital is reporting a record number of patients it is treating for COVID-19. As of Thursday, 16 of those patients were on a ventilator.
People point to the low mortality rate of COVID-19 — less than 2 percent in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University — but there is a lot of space between a mild case of COVID-19 and death by the disease.
Many of the people now living in that space are living with ongoing complications from the disease including damage to the lungs, heart and brain. Even though they are no longer hospitalized, they are going through treatment and rehab. They have lost jobs — often the source of health insurance benefits. They are not among the count of the hospitalized or the dead, but they and their families are definitely among the count of those impacted by this disease.
The speed at which the vaccines have been developed has been remarkable. It’s a process that normally takes a decade or longer, if it’s even possible to create one. The polio vaccine, for example, took more than 20 years to develop and included many failures. Kudos to the companies, the researchers and the government that have given us not just one vaccine but several in such a short time.
Treatment, too, has gotten better as doctors and researches discover better ways to treat patients.
But the key to limiting the spread of the disease before we reach herd immunity through vaccinations (it’s unknown how many vaccinated people it would take to reach that point) is to stop the virus with the individual.
It’s the holidays and we want to be with friends and family. It’s colder outside so outside activities are not comfortable. We want to gather around the table with our loved ones and celebrate with them.
But we have to think of the friends and family members we want to see next year and take the precautions now so we can see them in 2021.
The vaccine is here. That’s a major accomplishment. But it’s going to take several months before it’s available to the general public and during that time, we’ve got to remain vigilant, not just against this virus, but against our own desire to have things be “normal” again.
We’ll get there. We just have to hang on a little longer.