But Muschamp’s response inadvertently pointed to a larger truth the eclipse has revealed: There may be no other job in the United States in which sheer monomania — the kind where a rather cool and potentially once-in-a-lifetime event like the continental solar eclipse does not even qualify as an afterthought — is tolerated the way it is in a football coach. For Muschamp and others, these crucial weeks of August camp are the time to get the team ready for the dozen or so games it will play this season.
To a coach like Muschamp, stopping those preparations for even a minute or two to consider an eclipse probably won’t help you beat Clemson.
“I watch the Weather Channel every day,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. “They’re already saying what it’s going to look like in every city in America. So what’s going to be significant?”
At least Saban seemed aware that the eclipse was a thing that existed. (The moon, in fact, was to cover as much as 90 percent of the sun in Tuscaloosa, Ala.) And other coaches and athletes eagerly soaked up the rare experience.
Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh took off his glasses to put on special eclipse ones, and colleges like Georgia and Southern Illinois opens their stadium gates for watch parties. Rafael Nadal sneaked a peek while practicing for the United States Open in New York, and the Minnesota Twins gathered on the infield at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago hours before a game against the White Sox.
Unlike Muschamp and Saban, Tennessee Titans Coach Mike Mularkey stopped practice entirely so his players could watch. Many donned paper glasses, or lounged on the field staring up at the sky.
Minor league baseball teams, especially those in the eclipse’s path, went even further, with a handful rescheduling games to take full advantage. In Salem, Ore., the Class A Hillsboro Hops and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes paused their game — moved to the morning — for what they billed as baseball’s first-ever eclipse delay. The game got off to a slightly late start because the Hops were stuck in traffic, then stopped in the middle of the first inning as fans and players paused to watch the sky go dark.
In Nebraska, the Lincoln Saltdogs wore special eclipse jerseys and announced that they had sold tickets to buyers from as far as the United Kingdom and Germany.
Other teams hosting events in the eclipse’s path included the Idaho Falls Chukars, in Idaho; the Bowling Green Hot Rods, in Kentucky; the Nashville Sounds; and at least three clubs in South Carolina: the Greenville Drive, the Columbia Fireflies and the Charleston RiverDogs.
At Oregon State, according to a spokesman, football practice was moved back, and the university’s teams were allowed to watch from a deck at Reser Stadium.
At Boise State, athletes were invited to attend an on-campus event if they were interested, a spokesman said, while Vanderbilt’s team planned to watch together on its practice field, the university said.
And while Muschamp laughed last month at even the suggestion that he would carve out a window to watch the eclipse, Clemson, also in South Carolina, did just the opposite.
“Football had it blocked off on training camp schedule developed in summer!” a spokesman wrote in an email Monday morning. The Tigers, though, could afford the reward of a brief break: They are, after all, the defending national champions.