The sentiments from new Colorado Buffaloes coach Karl Dorrell are clear. Everyone wants answers on whether there will be a college football season or not. But as we sit here in mid-May, it is far too soon to tell. “We are living each day really day by day, in terms of the information we get,” Dorrell told the assembled media on day two of Pac 12 webinars with conference coaches.
Pac 12 Football; Living Day By Day
The webinar is set up to address questions of how the coaches are managing their programs, and what they see down the road. Day two featured Dorrell, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, and Washington’s Jimmy Lake Tuesday morning.
The three coaches talked about how they are trying to stay in touch with their players and coaches, and have some ideas on how to get prepared for a potential season. It is clear, just as in Monday’s webinar, that none of them knows what the season will look like, although they express optimism that there will be one. Although Whittingham did say the odds are against it starting on time.
What that season will look like, how many games it will have, if it will include non-conference games is anyone’s guess at this point.
One of the tougher issues to tackle is getting players to travel back from their homes, some of which are in states that have higher infection rates than others. There are also international players on the rosters of several conference teams. How do they get back into the country while there is a travel ban in place?
Whittingham said, “There is going to be a lot of things that arise that we haven’t even thought of yet, hurdles that we have to get over.” He said there is no way to know how much lead time the schools will have before they get a go-ahead to resume training or practice. Thus, travel is likely to be a tough issue to manage.
Lake added, “the safety of the players and our staff is number one. So, if someone has an issue with underlying condition or getting back here, we are going to deal with that appropriately. It’s going to be nothing about getting them here for a meeting and that takes precedent over their safety.”
Utah is the only of the three schools that had any Spring camp at all before the schools started shutting down due to the COVID-19 even meet his players in person. Lake, having been the defensive coordinator at Washington under former head coach Chris Petersen, knows his players and recruits, but has yet to run his own practice as head coach. Whittingham at least has a little bit of practice tape to review. “We have worn that tape out,” he said about how many times he has gone over it, just to have some intel on his players.
The coaches agreed that they need somewhere from six to eight weeks to get their players ready for a season. At least two of those weeks would be intense physical training to get into football shape. The challenge comes in that some states are loosening their stay-at-home mandates much sooner than others. That is true not just in the Pac 12, but an issue across all conferences.
Whittingham said he wants to see players get back to training, not necessarily practice, but training at the very least as soon as their states allow. “I don’t that believe players that have the availability and opportunity to train, should be, that it should be withheld from them. I think everything is in the best interest of the players in my opinion. There’s imbalances and inequalities all across the board in the NCAA, facility-wise, recruiting bases. Nothing is really equal when you really look at it. So, I would hate to see athletes just sitting around when you could be training and getting ready for the season just because other places aren’t quite yet to that point.”
Whittingham stressed that he was just talking about training. He said he believed the lead-in time for the season for camp should be the same for everyone.
To that extent, Lake said he actually endorses the NCAA stepping in and creating a universal calendar for all of all college football. “I am of the opinion it would be great if the whole NCAA made a blanket rule for the whole nation of when we would start.”
Of course, there is a question as to whether the NCAA even has that authority to govern the schedules of the schools and conferences across the country. Any NCAA rulings could perhaps contradict state government mandates.
Give an answer, get five more questions. That is the, “Living each day, day by day,” that Dorrell is talking about.