About this time last year, Washington State Cougars football would have held its annual spring game. Right now, Martin Stadium is stagnant, quietly waiting for the action to return once again.
Like Martin Stadium, the rest of the country is quietly waiting to reopen.
The COVID-19 outbreak has forced cities and states in the U.S. to issue shelter in place orders to slow the spread of the virus. Roughly 85% or 278 million U.S. residents are under some form of lockdown, according to Business Insider, a business news website.
In the State of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statewide lockdown back on March 24, 2020. For WSU football players, this means no spring practice, no spring game, and a lot of uncertainty moving forward.
“This has definitely been the longest break I’ve ever had in like three years,” said Dallas Hobbs, a redshirt junior, defensive lineman for WSU football.
Scholarship players usually do not get more than five or six weeks off from football all year, depending on the bowl game. Due to COVID-19, players have already been out of football for seven weeks.
The first couple weeks of the break was a really good opportunity to rest up and unwind, but now, Hobbs said he really misses football and being together with the team.
The only positive thing about being home is spending time with family. Harris is back home in Tampa, Florida. He is grateful to be able to connect with his family by being with them playing board games and watching movies, said Travell Harris, a redshirt junior, WSU wide receiver.
The worst part is not being able to workout out in gyms with proper equipment. A lot of people do not have access to facilities or equipment at home, and a lot of fields and outdoor places to train are being closed off, Harris said.
WSU officials sent out exercise bands to all the players so they would at least have some sort of equipment, said Dwain Bradshaw, head strength coach for WSU football.
As a strength coach in the offseason, not being in physical contact with the players is really hard. Most of the contact between the strength coaches and the players is done through texting. Everyday, coaches are communicating new workouts and ways to stay active to the players, Bradshaw said.
“The big thing is just making sure that the players and everyone in this world right now are finding ways to stay active,” Bradshaw said. “A lot of people are getting kicked off fields and all that, so setting goals is important because it can be easy to stay up late and sleep in late.”
Hobbs has been staying active by going on jogs around the block, biking on his indoor Peloton bike, and doing rows and presses with his 70 and 90 pound dumbbells, Hobbs said.
“I try to run some sprints in the backyard barefoot sometimes because I didn’t bring cleats with me,” Hobbs said.
One-third of the players are working out really hard everyday and getting ahead during this quarantine. Those guys are going to be the players that really stand out this season. Another third of the guys are working out here and there, but they are not taking full advantage of their time off, and the last group of guys might not be doing anything at all, Bradshaw said.
One big concern is that WSU football has an entirely brand new coaching staff, and this is Nick Rolovich’s first year coaching at a power five school. The players and the coaches have never even seen each other on the practice field.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association allows eight hours a week for online film study. This means coaches and players meet on zoom in groups, similar to how the rest of the country is doing online school, Hobbs said.
The NCAA has been discussing many options for the 2020 season. They have considered having padded practices this summer to make up for the absence of spring ball. Another option would be to cancel all non-conference games to make the season shorter, and fans would not be allowed to attend games in the event that COVID-19 is still posing major issues, according to CBS Sports.
The worst-case scenario would be to cancel the entire college football season. Officials are going to do everything in their power to find a way around this. As of right now, no one knows what is going to happen, but the decision will come down to federal government officials, state governors, and the newly formed NCAA medical advisory panel, according to ESPN.