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Wisconsin football: Paul Chryst and Barry Alvarez discuss COVID-19, Nebraska game cancellation

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The head coach and the athletic director met with the media on Wednesday afternoon.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers announced on Wednesday morning that they were pausing all team activities for a minimum of seven days due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the team. This also means that this coming Saturday’s game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers is cancelled.

On Wednesday afternoon, head coach Paul Chryst, who tested positive for COVID-19 along with five other coaches and six players, and athletic director Barry Alvarez spoke with the media and answered their questions about the virus, the upcoming schedule and what new protocols will be put in place to keep the athletes and staff safe.

“This morning I received the news that I had tested positive via a PCR test I took yesterday,” Chryst said via a statement from UW. “I informed my staff and the team this morning and am currently isolating at home. I had not been experiencing any symptoms and feel good as of this morning.

Here are the highlights of the Zoom press conference:

Athletic director Barry Alvarez was first up and he discussed what was, probably, the most interesting fact of the whole press conference: Alvarez and UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank made the decision to cancel the game.

Alvarez said that they were in the orange/red section which notes “team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).”

Basically, they saw the direction things were headed and wanted to try and get out in front of it as much as they could. They “consider(ed the) viability of continuing with scheduled competition” and did not find it viable. Based on there still being outstanding tests and the state of Wisconsin being a national COVID hotspot, this seems like a fair conclusion to make.

Here are some other highlights from Alvarez’s availability:

  • The players who are currently quarantined are doing so in individual hotel rooms.
  • Alvarez told Nebraska AD Bill Moos this morning about the game being cancelled. Said he was understanding and disappointed. They were scheduled to have dinner on Friday night.
  • Alvarez mentioned a number of times that the No. 1 concern was the health and safety of the players.
  • He also noted that no decisions have been made about playing the Purdue game next weekend.

Head coach Paul Chryst was up next, coming to us live from...somewhere in his house as he is already quarantining. He started off by saying “physically, I feel good,” which is excellent to hear. Chryst then went on to discuss how there are always things that he, and the team, could have done better to help prevent something like this from happening.

Of course since all college football coaches have at least one screw loose, Chryst was talking about what he and the team could do to make sure they were potentially ready to take on Purdue next weekend.

If you go by the 10-day mandatory quarantine that coaches are under, Chryst and five other coaches wouldn’t be able to be back at practice until next Friday, one day before they’re supposed to play Purdue, afternoon at the earliest.

It is interesting that Chryst said he wasn’t sure about how the canceled game against Nebraska would be counted. I’m sure the section of Nebraska fans that think “Wisconsin is scared to plays us” will handle this with the utmost tact and incisive thinking we’ve come to expect.

“I don’t know what I’m really supposed to be able to share,” Chryst doing his best, in a difficult spot, to answer our questions about how people are feeling and who is sick. Lastly, much like Alvarez, Chryst said that the most important factor in all of this was the health and safety of his players.