BY CHUCK OLIVER
ATLANTA, GA – The current landscape in sports is unprecedented. I promise you, though, there are college football coaches kicking themselves for a missed opportunity.
The CDC has recommended limiting gatherings “for the next 8 weeks.”That’s the end of the semester. In that the NCAA prohibits practice if school isn’t in session, outside of the season of that particular sport (think bowl practice in December), that means all spring practice that hasn’t been practiced already just isn’t going to occur.
I can guarantee you the most uber-OCD in the coaching fraternity have already started making notes about next February’s calendar to ensure that if a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence actually occurs a second time, or any event like it, that, “it won’t be MY program getting jacked over because we’re having spring practice EARLY!”
Not that simple, though, certainly not for the programs at the top of the game’s food chain.
If head coaches DO pencil-in spring practice to start the Monday after signing day, for instance, there may be a peril awaiting them. We had a national championship game on January 13 this year. Imagine being Travis Etienne, you went hard, non-stop from August 1 until January 13. As a running back playing a power 5 schedule, followed by a conference title game, then Ohio State, then LSU. Then three weeks later, yo, “Captains on the goal line facing out!” That’s not good, even for young legs, that’s just not a schedule that puts the kid in the best spot to succeed.
But all the coaches who really do have to concern themselves with every last scintilla of a 1% improvement in any phase of the game because, “we ARE a national championship program,” yes, THOSE coaches will schedule a way early spring practice. They’re upset that this year their program got screwed out of 15 chances to get better and the only way to at least tilt the equation in their favor going forward is a much earlier spring start date.
Next year February starts to spring practice will seem almost normal. In case the once-in-anybody’s-lifetime situation happens again.