Rivalries strengthen and weaken with time. It’s a simple fact of college football. However, the spread of the novel coronavirus will shake up sports in a way that fans have never seen before. The question is, how will the pandemic shape the evolution of one of the most storied rivalries in college football history, that between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the USC Trojans?
How Has the Virus Affected Each Team?
One Notre Dame football player had tested positive for the novel coronavirus during the June 18 round of testing. As of July 7, this player had since recovered. 103 Notre Dame football players received tests on July 1, all of whom tested negative for the virus.
69 USC student-athletes, 56 of whom are football players, received coronavirus tests, and yielded one positive result. However, the University has not disclosed whether or not the student-athlete is a football player.
The Recruiting Angle
Even before the pandemic, the Irish began to feel the heat on the recruiting front as the program struggled to outshine powerhouses such as Clemson and Georgia. Recent ups and downs have included snatching up offensive tackle Joe Alt and the team missing out on Clemson commit Will Shipley.
In what the Los Angeles Times calls a “recruiting renaissance,” the Trojans headed into the pandemic with six additional recruiting assistants. The change came as a response to last year’s forgettable recruitment yield. The Trojans and 5-star defensive end Korey Foreman have had eyes on each other and recently secured a commitment from 4-star cornerback Jaylin Smith.
Like programs across the NCAA, both teams have adapted to the chaos and stayed in touch with recruits through texting and video chats. Both squads have the chance to make stronger connections than ever with new players.
Onward to Victory
Time is ticking as the season approaches, and still, no NCAA-wide testing standard exists. The difference between the Midwest and the West Coast is drastic, and time will only tell how the virus will spread across the country as two rivals edge for the admiration of recruits.