Mike Norvell Denies Dabo Swinney's Claim That FSU Used COVID-19 to Postpone Game

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2020

Florida State head football coach Mike Norvell speaks at a press conference Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. Norvell is Florida State's new coach, taking over a Seminoles program that has struggled while he was helping to build Memphis into a Group of Five power. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)
Phil Sears/Associated Press

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell said COVID-19 was "absolutely" the reason his team's game against Clemson was postponed Saturday, per David M. Hale of ESPN. 

The game was moved shortly before its scheduled starting time after "both teams' medical personnel were unable to mutually agree on moving forward with the game," per the ACC's official release. Florida State's medical staff determined it was unsafe after a Clemson player showed symptoms of COVID-19 but was allowed to practice and travel with the team.

"Football coaches are not doctors. Some of us might think we are, but there's a reason why medical advisers make decisions based on the information that is provided," Norvell said Monday. "It's unfortunate that opportunity has been delayed, but there's a reason people making those decisions have that responsibility."

This comes after Clemson coach Dabo Swinney accused Florida State of postponing the game for competitive reasons.

"This game was not canceled because of COVID," Swinney said Sunday, per Hale. "COVID was just an excuse to cancel the game. I have no doubt their players wanted to play and would have played. And same with the coaches. To me, the Florida State administration forfeited the game."

Swinney maintained Clemson followed all required protocols. He also said that the coaches were not a part of the call Saturday morning on which medical staff made the decision not to play.

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The 7-1 Tigers were heavy favorites to beat the 2-6 Seminoles, although Clemson is looking for every opportunity to impress the College Football Playoff committee, which releases its first rankings Tuesday. 

Clemson suffered its first loss of the season earlier this month to Notre Dame while Trevor Lawrence was unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19. The team now has just two scheduled games left in the season if the matchup against FSU is not made up: next Saturday against Pittsburgh and Dec. 5 at Virginia Tech.

The squad is No. 4 in the latest Associated Press poll and is looking to solidify a spot in the playoff for the sixth straight season.