The return of the students to the University of Alabama campus drew large crowds to bars and sparked the frustration of at least one Crimson Tide football player.
Offensive lineman Chris Owens shared on Twitter a photo of the Tuscaloosa Strip on Sunday afternoon, where a long line of people – many of them not wearing masks – had formed outside a bar:
The editor of the school’s student newspaper shared more photos of the crowds outside the bars and the lack of masks at these establishments:
Coach Nick Saban’s daughter Kristen Saban Setas added her voice to the number on Sunday afternoon:
Owens’ public frustration with the crowds comes a day after Auburn catcher Anthony Schwartz shared similar feelings about the crowds of maskless people on that school’s campus after the students returned.
Alabama begins classes on Wednesday and students must be tested for COVID-19 before arriving on campus. However, the school has banned large gatherings and implemented rules on face covers and social distancing.
Nick Saban noted that the SEC had postponed the start of his football season until September 26 in part to assess how returning students to campus affected the rate of COVID-19 positivity among football players, which has been maintained. under control in recent weeks by procedures for players.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said last week that the university had tried to create an “umbrella” over its players but not necessarily a “bubble”. The players still have the freedom on campus, although quarterback Mac Jones and running back Najee Harris said on Friday that they generally stick to themselves anyway.
Owens has been outspoken in recent days about handling the virus, calling “failed leadership” last week as one of the reasons the football season remains uncertain.
Mike Rodak is an Alabama Beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on twitter @mikerodak.