COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz says he hasn’t paid much attention if the 2020 college football season goes as planned.
Massive delays and cancellations have put athletics on hold for the past month amid the coronavirus pandemic, with all major sports in America suspended and the Tokyo Olympics originally scheduled for this summer postponed a year.
The shutdown wiped out much of the spring sports season in Missouri and through the Southeast Conference, halting all activities for a period that MU sports director Jim Sterk plans to last the rest of the ‘academic year. No more Tigers spring football training and the annual spring match.
But Drinkwitz does not focus on the assumptions.
The Tigers are hurrying to prepare for their opening game against Central Arkansas on September 5 at Faurot Field – although no one expected.
“I will use the force of today on the problems of today. I’m not going to use the problems of today against tomorrow, “Drinkwitz said Wednesday in a Zoom conference call with reporters. “We are all so concerned with predicting the future rather than just focusing on today. Today, April 1, and I don’t know everything about you, but September 5 seems far away. President (Donald) Trump has extended social directives until April 30, and I have been with my family for a long time. “
These parameters may change, but Drinkwitz said he would deal with these circumstances when they are right in front of him.
“For me to plan anything in the future, I think it’s a lot of energy and wasted effort, in my opinion,” said Drinkwitz. “I think what it does is that people care about things that are not relevant at the moment. What is important to us right now is taking care of our families, maintaining proper social distancing and respecting the rules and standards that our administration, our president and our governor have put in place. It’s my aim. ”
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Drinkwitz responded to a recent statement by ESPN commentator Kirk Herbstreit who said he would be “shocked” if the college football season were to take place this fall.
“No offense to Mr. Herbstreit,” said Drinkwitz, “but deciding who will win a football game on College GameDay is very different than panicking the world as to whether we are going to play a college football season.
“And I’m not going to get into it. “
A few hours later, Drinkwitz appeared on The Paul Finebaum Show and apologized to Herbstreit.
“I didn’t want to say anything to Kirk Herbstreit or shoot him,” said Drinkwitz. “I hope he will accept my apologies. My point was that we are focusing on today. “
Drinkwitz said there was no deadline in his mind for when training should resume to get a full season. Missouri only held three spring training sessions before the eruption of cancellations.
During this five-day period, March 7-11, Drinkwitz said he had not identified any real strengths or weaknesses for the Tigers. Like all other SEC teams whose spring plans have been affected, he knows that Missouri needs to improve.
“If we reported on August 5 and it was said that we were playing on September 5, we would be ready to go,” said Drinkwitz. “This is exactly what you are doing. As long as it is equal and the playing field is equal for everyone, I think you are in good shape. ”
While practicing social distancing, Drinkwitz tried to stay in constant contact with staff, current players and recruits under the new guidelines. This week, the SEC said it would allow two hours a week for teams to break down the film or anything that can be done via the Internet when they are not allowed to meet in person.
Drinkwitz is one of four new SEC head coaches this year, along with Mike Leach of Mississippi State, Lane Kiffin of Mississippi and Sam Pittman of Arkansas.
“I think that puts us behind the eighth ball and I think that every time you try to instill your culture and what you try to do and build that trust and respect, you can only really do it through time and time spent together, ”said Drinkwitz. “So it’s not ideal. It’s really not ideal.
“The only thing I say a little about unifies the playing field is that college football is constantly in a state of flux with coaching transitions, apart from a few schools on our side of the division. Whether or not there has been a change of head coach, most schools have changed co-ordinators, changed coaching positions, and so these guys are in much the same situation as us. “
Drinkwitz kept her normal daily routine as much as possible with the changes brought about by the coronavirus.
He said he still woke up at 5:43 a.m., training, helping his wife feed his daughter’s breakfast, and starting to recruit, although the NCAA announced a continuous deadlock for recruiting on Wednesday. nobody until May 31.
A Missouri coaching meeting remains at 9:00 am and staff on Wednesday interrupted the central Arkansas film until noon.
There is still a lot of work to be done, although real life weighs heavily.
Drinkwitz said that he had family members involved in health care in various respects and that he knew people who had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“We are in this fight and we are just trying to provide encouragement, prayers and support in every way possible and to check people out and make sure they know we are proud of them and we are proud of the fight. that they are putting in place and we are doing our part, “said Drinkwitz. “It is our job as coaches to make sure they know they are going to be able to get through, they are going to fight through.
“” Encouragement gives someone the courage to fight and go through what they are going through, and it is our job, to check, to make sure they are not alone. I think the hardest part of what’s going on with COVID-19 is the isolation, the quarantine, being alone and seeing those walls close in on you, and you don’t know if someone else is fighting with you.
“So just tell them that we are fighting with you, we are there in battle with you and whatever we do, whether it be spiritual health, prayer or mental health, we are there for them.” “