Brown cautiously optimistic
by Jim Buzzerd
It’s been nearly two months since the Coronavirus has shut down the college sports world, and every other sports world for that matter. Last week West Virginia University head football coach Neal Brown addressed the uncertainty facing college football, now less than four months from the scheduled start of the season.
“I remain hopeful and cautiously optimistic about playing football this fall,” Brown said. “I think what we have done as a league, and I think we have done a nice job led by Commissioner (Bob) Bowlsby and our athletic directors is taking a wait-and-see approach and not getting too far out in the future.
“Everything we have done in the league right now is focused on May 31. And I think Shane (Lyons), who leads the football oversight committee, they have been commissioned with figuring out a ‘return to play’ and what that looks like.”
According to the estimation of one sports talk duo the college football season has a 50-50 chance of beginning without delay. For that to happen Brown figures his players will need to be allowed back on campus six weeks before the season.
“I think everybody is trending towards the ‘six-week return to play’ now. That gives you some time for your strength and conditioning and then you gradually incline to football work. I am fine with that model. I think the six weeks is fair. Most of the things done during this time are equitable across ‘Power 5’ football, which is important.
“I am like most coaches. I just want to know what it is so we can start the planning process and see what that looks like.”
As it stands the team has been keeping up with virtual meetings to install schemes and interact.
“My antenna is up for the mental health and well-being of our players. We are spread across and everyone’s situations are different. A lot of our guys are riding emotional roller coasters.
“Our guys are dealing with so much so what I am trying to do is stay in tune. If I feel frustration levels or if I feel people are getting into a negative place then we cut back a lot. I think you have to get a temperature for each day or each week how it is going and then adjust your plan.
“There are some things I have learned in this process, both in recruiting and operating with our players and our staff that we will take this with us when we get back to whatever our new normal is. Some of these Zoom meetings are good and multiple FaceTime calls, things like that. “This from a coaching standpoint has made us better teachers. It has allowed us to inspect what we expect. How do we quiz? How do we make sure these guys are getting the material we are trying to teach?” A couple weeks ago I mentioned that Myrtle Beach wide receiver J.J. Jones had narrowed his list of college choices to 10. The son of former Mountaineer running back Jon Jones had West Virginia on that list. The younger Jones narrowed his list to five over the weekend and WVU did not make the cut. For what it’s worth, Jones’ list includes Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi State. Some have speculated the interest on both sides had much to do with Jones being a legacy more than anything.