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LSU football coach said 'most of our players have caught' coronavirus

The revelation came a day before the Big Ten announced it would play football this fall, reversing its earlier decision to suspend the college sport.
LSU  coach Ed Orgeron on the sidelines during a game in Atlanta on Dec. 28, 2019.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron on the sidelines during a game in Atlanta on Dec. 28, 2019.Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

The head coach of Louisiana State University football said most of his team had tested positive for coronavirus, an alarming revelation that came just a day before the Big Ten Conference announced Wednesday it would return to the gridiron in the fall.

Ed Orgeron, coach of defending national champion LSU, casually dropped the disclosure while answering a question about the Southeastern Conference team's depth during this pandemic.

"Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it," he told reporters in Baton Rouge on Tuesday. "So I think hopefully they won't catch it again and hopefully they won't be out for games."

Moments earlier, Orgeron recalled a recent outbreak that forced him to radically redo practice.

“I told the team we need everybody, there’s no telling what's going to happen with the Covid," Orgeron said. "Two weeks ago ... everybody on our offensive line, expect for two or three guys, were out.

"We adjusted very well," the coach added. "You got to make adjustments."

LSU opens its truncated season a week from Saturday, at home against Mississippi State.

Dr. Dan Diekema, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine, said Wednesday the LSU disclosure is proof that college athletes are not as well protected as pro athletes such as NBA and NHL players, who are confined to bubbles.

"A professional athlete and professional sports leagues have the resources to create these bubbles and have massive financial incentives to maintain those bubbles," Diekema told NBC News.

"It's unreasonable and really impossible to create that kind of bubble in college athletics. They're going to socialize. So it's going to lead to what we're starting to see already in the areas the have begun to play."

The University of Virginia was set to play at its backyard rival Virginia Tech this upcoming Saturday. But that highly anticipated grudge match had to postponed due to coronavirus concerns in Blacksburg.

The Big Ten, in its announcement on Wednesday, said it hopes to play a nine-game schedule starting the weekend of Oct. 23-24. The league said it's established testing protocols that would trigger the cancellation of games and practice in case of outbreaks.