MTSU's Stockstill concerned about upcoming football season

MTSU football coach Rick Stockstill hopes to see the 2020 football season kick off on time, but warns people need to adhere to government mandates to stay at home and away from big crowds. FILE

MTSU football coach Rick Stockstill wasn’t surprised when Conference USA canceled spring practice.

While it will create hardships across the league, Stockstill is more concerned about the upcoming season starting late or being canceled due to the COVID-19 virus.

"I think there is a legitimate concern because we just don't know," he said. "We don’t have anything to fall back upon and say this happened 10 years ago or 20 years ago.

"It's all new to us, but if we don't get serious about this as a country the potential is there (to cancel the season). I hope is doesn't happen obviously. We don't know how long (shutdowns) are going to last.

"If everybody doesn’t start doing what they're supposed to do and stop thinking they're Superman or bullet proof, it's going to happen. ... Again, if we don't take it serious, there is never going to be a game."

As for spring practice, Stockstill never expected to have it as the virus began to spread so quickly.

"It didn't surprise me a bit,” he said. “If they're not going to have The Masters and not going to let a golfer go out play, they're sure not going to let somebody that bleeds, sweats and lays on top of each other practice football. I knew it was a matter of time before they canceled it."

Missing spring practice will have an effect on the Blue Raiders, who have an influx of seven new mid-term players, along with several first-year players and those with no or limited experience.

"We had seven mid-term guys that were here, and three were high school guys that graduated early," Stockstill said. "You think of all the work they had to do to graduate to go to college, and it's almost for naught.

"We've got a bunch of young players that needed spring practice. The whole team needed it, but at least half needed it more than others."

Some teams across the country were able to finish spring practice early, or at least complete half of it, Stockstill added.

"There were several schools that got all of spring practice in early because they have indoor facilities," he said. "Some got three-fourths and some got one-half. I hope for programs like ours they'll give us some days this summer. If not, the schools that were able to go through spring or some of it will have an advantage over the schools that didn't."

Stockstill said the COVID-19 virus also will make recruiting more difficult.

"This year they made February a dead period for the first time," he said. "Nobody could come on your campus, and when it (recruiting) opened up March they started shutting everything down.

"April 15 is the first day you can start talking to recruits and visiting, but spring recruiting I don't see taking place. I don't think the NCAA wants a bunch of us flying all over the country visiting them.

"Then there will be an issue with summer camps. I don't know how many will be out there. We hope to have ours, but some have 200 or 300 and the mega camps have about 1,000. In the fall you're only allowed one evaluation, so there's potential for a lot of mistakes. You can see things on film, but there's nothing like seeing them with the live eye. I'm going on the premonition that there won't be camps either. If there are, it will be a luxury."

MTSU is scheduled to open the season Sept. 5 at Duke.

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