(Stats Perform) – Time is not on the Miami Marlins‘ side while their schedule fills with postponed games this week due to an outbreak of coronavirus across their team.
All sports are paying close attention to the situation with a sense of worry. In college football, such an outbreak could be a breaking point should there even be a season this fall.
Former 10-year NFL safety Mike Minter, now in his ninth season as the head coach at Campbell University, has an idea that he’s shared with friends in the NFL, but it might work better on his FCS level – play games every other week to be better equipped for handling COVID-related issues.
During the Big South Conference’s virtual media day Tuesday, Minter said, “If I was at the NFL level and I was making some of these decisions, basically I would go one game, take a week off, one game, take a week off. Of course, you’re not going to get all the games in and I know it’s about the money and that TV contract, so I do understand that. But that’s how I would do it because it gives people two weeks to deal with any situation that comes their way. It’s not necessarily just five days or four days to try to figure out how do you get somebody who just tested positive ready for the next game, and then how many people did that affect? You look at the baseball, the Marlins, that could happen real quick. But when you have two weeks to deal with that, then you’re able to get these guys back and ready to play again.”
College football schedules will be shorter than a normal season, in some cases conference-only, so Minter may be on to something.
“I think it could work in college, especially if people are going to the conference-only model,” he said.
“You have the space for something that pops up, and I think that’s important in this situation.”
Big South commissioner Kyle Kallander agreed there’s value in a rotating schedule. “Yes, it could,” work, he said, “especially as the nonconference schedule dwindles and conferences move toward conference-only schedules. Building flexibility into schedules could assist with the disruptions.”
Playing every other week is opposite the norm, where a bye in the schedule can halt a team’s momentum. So resistance to that type of schedule could be fiercer than a stout defensive line.
“To me, there’s only one way to do anything, so if you’re going to do it, you just kind of go all in – all gas, no brakes,” said Charleston Southern coach Autry Denson, the former Notre Dame running back. “So if you’re going to do it, I feel like we should prepare to do it the way that we’re accustomed to doing it, and that’s weekly games, allowing our young men the best opportunity to get conditioned to the game of football and to continue to stay in that rhythm and that grove that come with playing from week to week during the season.”
Said Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon: “I think part of it is COVID is here. It’s like it’s not going anywhere for a while. I think what we have to find a way to do is take all the precautions from the state and local (protocols) and everybody here and say, ‘All right, this is the best course of action.’ Whether that’s playing every week or every other week, I’ll be honest with you, I think some of it is going to happen naturally.”
There isn’t an FCS conference that’s a more natural fit for every-other week scheduling this fall than the Big South. Defending champion Monmouth and Hampton have suspended fall competition due to the pandemic, leaving only five member schools, and one – North Alabama – remains ineligible for the conference title. Robert Morris, an FCS independent that will join Big South football next year, has expressed interest to the conference in adding some games against their future opponents.
Not surprising, Kennesaw State (11-3, 5-1) sat atop the Big South’s preseason poll for the fourth straight year. Voting began prior to the Hampton and Monmouth decisions, so they were included in the preseason poll as well as with the preseason all-conference team.
Kennesaw State linebacker Bryson Armstrong, the 2019 Big South defensive player of the year, earned the preseason honor heading into his senior season. Campbell quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams became the first sophomore to be selected as the preseason offensive player of the year.
BIG SOUTH PRESEASON POLL
Head Coaches and Media Panel
1. Kennesaw State (8 first-place votes), 68 points
2. *Monmouth (3), 57
3. Charleston Southern (1), 43
4. Campbell, 42
5. *Hampton, 23
6. Gardner-Webb, 19
North Alabama ineligible for conference title due to Division I transition
*-Not playing this fall due to COVID-19 pandemic
BIG SOUTH PRESEASON TEAM
Offensive Player of the Year – Hajj-Malik Williams, QB, Campbell
Defensive Player of the Year – Bryson Armstrong, LB, Kennesaw State
QB – Hajj-Malik Williams, So., Campbell
RB – Isaac Foster, Jr., Kennesaw State
RB – Juwon Farri, R-So., Monmouth
WR – Izaiah Gathings, Jr., Gardner-Webb
WR – Jadakis Bonds, Jr., Hampton
WR – Lonnie Moore IV, R-Sr., Monmouth
WR – Terrance Greene Jr., R-Jr., Monmouth (tie)
WR – Caleb Snead, R-Jr., Campbell (tie)
TE – Gene Scott, Jr., Monmouth
OL – A.J. Farris, R-Sr., Monmouth
OL – Chris Dye, Sr., Kennesaw State
OL – Jake Lassiter, Sr., Kennesaw State
OL – Justin Szuba, Jr., Monmouth
OL – William Nana-Fabu, Jr., Kennesaw State
DL – Shaundre Mims, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
DL – Brevin Allen, Jr., Campbell
DL – Nick Salley, R-Sr., Charleston Southern
DL – Anton Williams, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
LB – Bryson Armstrong, R-Sr., Kennesaw State
LB – Da’Quan Grimes, R-Sr., Monmouth
LB – Darien Reynolds, Sr., Gardner-Webb
LB – Justice Galloway-Velazquez, Jr., Campbell
DB – Anthony Budd, Sr., Monmouth
DB – Cody Cline, So., Charleston Southern
DB – Darion Slade, R-Sr., Campbell
DB – Justin Terry, Sr., Monmouth
PK – Alex Usry, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
P – Joe Gurley, Sr., North Alabama
KR – Lonnie Moore IV, R-Sr., Monmouth
PR – Devron Harper, So., Gardner-Webb
LS – Ethan Ray, R-Sr., Charleston Southern
QB – Jack Chambers, R-Jr., Charleston Southern; RB – Shaquil Terry, Sr., Kennesaw State; WR – Garris Schwarting, R-Sr., Charleston Southern; OL – Tyler McLellan, R-Jr., Campbell (tie); OL – J.T. Melton, R-Jr., Charleston Southern (tie); DL – Wallace Cowins Jr., Sr., North Alabama; LB – Cade Hamilton, Jr., Gardner-Webb; DB – Demetrius Pettway, Jr., Kennesaw State; PK – Joe Gurley, Sr., North Alabama; P – Nicholas Jones, Sr., Kennesaw State; KR – Devron Harper, So., Gardner-Webb (tie); KR – Isaac Foster, Jr., Kennesaw State (tie); PR – Isaac Foster, Jr., Kennesaw State; LS – Will Mullins, Sr., Gardner-Webb