The coronavirus pandemic is front and center across the world and that includes the realm of athletics as well.
While much of the recent discourse has been about the potential for holding spring football practice at some point in the near future, others are looking further ahead on the calendar. Though there has been an assumption that the COVID-19 outbreak can be contained enough to the point where the fall season can go on as scheduled, that may not wind up being the case. Such concerns are normally spoken in hushed tones but Virginia head coach Broncon Mendenhall broached the subject earlier this week and told reporters he is preparing for a very long break ahead with his team.
“We’re preparing exactly with that model in place,” Mendenhall told CBS Sports. “We’re acting as if, and we’re making preparations as if, we won’t have spring practice. We possibly won’t have players here for summer school, any session, and possibly we won’t have the opportunity for anything other than fall camp to begin.
“Knowing that fall camp timing might even be pushed back, meaning that there certainly could be a chance that it’s not even be a full schedule played this year — if football is played, period.”
The ACC has already canceled spring sports competition and halted practices the rest of the academic year. There has been some talk among coaches and administrators that there could be an extended fall camp as a way to acclimate players and get them ramped up to speed in order to prevent injuries but nothing has been settled on.
Such thinking, however, is likely optimistic with every passing day that COVID-19 numbers grow and the health care system gets strained further.
Mendenhall, it seems, is smartly preparing for things going the other way on the calendar compared to most. While he’s not the first to think it, going public with concerns that the football season remains in peril this fall is notable coming from the recent ACC Coastal champion.
Who knows when things might return back to any semblance of normalcy but it sounds like at least one football coach is thinking that won’t be anytime soon.
Already with a crowded quarterback room, UTSA has added another player at the position to its football roster.
In early March, Josh Adkins took the first step in leaving New Mexico State by entering his name into the transfer portal. On Twitter nearly a month later, Adkins announced that he will be transferring into the UTSA football program.
As a graduate transfer, Adkins will be eligible to play immediately in 2020. On top of that, he will have another year of eligibility he can use in 2021 as well.
A three-star 2017 signee, Adkins was rated as the No. 61 pro-style quarterback in the country. Adkins was the highest-rated signee in the Aggies’ class that year. He also took a redshirt for the 2017 season
Adkins was a two-year starter at New Mexico State. In that span, the Spring Branch, Tex., native completed nearly 60 percent of his 830 passes. He finished the NMSU portion of his career with 5,151 yards, 27 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He also scored four touchdowns on the ground and one through the air.
As noted earlier, Adkins will enter a crowded quarterback room when he officially joins the UTSA football team. How crowded? Dave Campbell’s Texas Football website explains:
With Adkins’ addition, the Roadrunners are set to have six quarterbacks on campus in the fall: Adkins, Frank Harris, Jordan Weeks, Lowell Narcisse, Suddin Sapien and 2020 recruit Cameron Peters. The first four have each started at least one college football game. Adkins is the first quarterback fully recruited by new coach Jeff Traylor.
When he’s not lighting up Twitter, Mike Leach has been busy adding transfers to his Mississippi State football roster. This week, Leach has lost one to Ye Olde Portal. Possibly because of the Twitter machine.
Thursday, the Mississippi State football head coach sent out a tweet in which he apologized for anyone he offended in a previous tweet. In the tweet in question, the caption read “After 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf..” The picture attached to it? An elderly woman knitting a noose.
A handful of Leach’s followers were offended by the tweet. In response to Leach’s original tweet, Mississippi State football player Fabien Lovett wrote simply, “Wtf.”
Coincidentally or not, Lovett used his personal Twitter account a day later to announce that he has entered the NCAA transfer database. The defensive lineman didn’t specifically cite Leach’s tweet as the trigger for his decision to leave the Mississippi State football team.
Lovett was a three-star 2018 signee. He was rated as the No. 7 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi.
The past two seasons, Lovett appeared in 15 games. 13 of those appearances came in 2019. A year ago, the defensive end was credited with 19 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and a sack.
Because he appeared in four or fewer games in 2018, Lovett was able to take a redshirt for that season. That will leave the lineman with three years of eligibility. However, he Will Likely have to sit out the 2020 campaign if he transfers to another FBS school.
Jan. 9, Leach was named the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team. Since then, the Pirate has added at least four transfers. All of which, incidentally, will come in from Power Five programs:
Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin is looking to the future even if spring in the SEC has been put on pause as a result of the coronavirus.
Per FBS Schedules, the Gators have added Florida A&M to their 2025 non-conference football schedule on Oct. 11 of that year. The move completes that season’s slate and will interestingly result in UF featuring every non-conference game against an in-state opponent.
Yes, we’ll have a good idea of who is truly the Sunshine State champ for real come 2025.
In addition to the game against the FCS Rattlers, the Gators will host USF in Gainesville and play at Miami in late September. Their traditional season-ender against another team from Tallahassee in Florida State will take place on Nov. 29.
The all-Florida non-conference schedule comes just as the program has actually been trying to do the opposite. The Gators were long criticized for rarely venturing outside the state’s borders for non-league games but have changed their tune recently. This has resulted in big home-and-homes with Utah, California, Colorado, Texas and Arizona State among others.
In 2025 however, football will come a lot closer to home even with those long trips on the future docket.
You can add Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens to the growing list of people in college athletics taking pay cuts as the result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a story posted to the university’s website on Thursday, UO confirmed that Mullens would be joining 10 other vice presidents in taking a 10 percent pay cut for the next six months. School president Michael H. Schill also announced he would reduce his salary 12 percent for the same term.
“Simply put, we are all going to have to make sacrifices,” Schill said at a virtual town hall for faculty. “I am working hard with other administrators to try to preserve as many jobs and benefits as we can as we face uncertain economic times.”
Mullens is coming off a stint on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee and served as its chairman the past two years as the face of the weekly rankings.
The Ducks top boss is in the middle of a contract that runs through 2025 according to The Oregonian. Mullens is set to make $717,500 this year though it’s not known if he will no longer get his six-figure retention bonus due at the end of June. Given the state of finances at colleges across the country, we’re betting that likely gets deferred.
The pay cut for Mullens and others at Oregon is scheduled to last six months but the school noted that it’s possible they will continue through the end of the 2021 school year.
The move to slash salary is not limited to Eugene. Already we’ve seen Wyoming’s AD do the same and even larger across the board cuts be made at Iowa State.
Given the revenue shortfalls we’ve seen this spring and the potential for the COVID-19 to impact the football calendar, it seems likely these are just the first of many such announcements coming from schools across the country.