For the sake of argument, let’s say they figure out a way to get the 2020 college football season off on time. How do they get players in shape without the virtual year round experience that offseason training has morphed into over the past decade or so?
Old school, baby!
Pittman said he believes players could be ready for the season on time of they are back on campus by Aug. 1, and he provided very sound reasoning.
“I’m a little bit old school, because I’m a little bit older, and I was a high school head coach and junior college head coach,” Pittman said. “And when I was at Oklahoma in ’97 and ’98, the kids that stayed for summer school were either the kids that were way out of shape and you encouraged them to stay, or guys that needed the summer school hours. Everybody else basically went home and you got them back the first of August and you started football.
“I still think we can do that, and I think if you talk to out strength coach, he would think four to six weeks before the season started would be prime time. I believe if we get started by July 1, that would be wonderful time.
“If we have to wait until Aug 1, I’m a little older than the other coaches, I’ve gone through that, I think we could have the season start on time if we came in the first of August, as well.”
Although Dabo’s worried about soft players.
The physical condition of players might determine a key question: How much time does a football team need to be ready for the season? Those in the industry say anywhere from 30–60 days. “If you got a bunch of guys that are sitting around doing nothing, eating Twinkies every day and watching Netflix, well, it’d probably take longer,” says Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
Sounds like it’s Junction Boys time!
Texas A&M University hired Bear Bryant as head football coach in 1954, replacing former coach Ray George. Bryant arrived in College Station on February 8, 1954, and began cleaning house. He felt that many of the players on the team were weak and not properly trained or coached. He decided that his players needed a camp away from the distractions on campus; thus, he arranged for the camp to be held in the small Hill Country town of Junction, where Texas A&M had a 411-acre (1.7-km2) adjunct campus (now the Texas Tech University Center at Junction).
At the time of the camp, the Hill Country was experiencing an epic drought and heat wave. The drought, the worst in the recorded history of the region, had lasted four years and would last another two after the camp was over. According to the National Climatic Data Center, all 10 days of the camp had hot temperatures with a few days topping 100°F (38°C).
Practices began before dawn and usually lasted all day with meetings in the evening until 11:00 pm. The oppressive heat combined with the brutal practice schedule was too much for many of the players. Each day, fewer and fewer players would be at practice, as many players quit the team from illness or disgust. The situation was compounded by Bryant’s refusal to allow water breaks. This practice, which is now widely recognized as dangerous, was at the time commonly employed by coaches at all levels in an attempt to “toughen up” their players. The only relief provided the players were two towels soaked in cold water; one towel was to be shared by the offensive players, and one by the defense. One of the Junction Boys, future NFL coach Jack Pardee, would later say in an interview that it was not unheard of for players to sweat away 10% of their body weight.
If you can survive a coach going Bear Bryant on your ass, the coronavirus ought to be no big deal. (I keed, I keed… a little, anyway.)