In just a few weeks, the world has been turned upside down by COVID-19. The virus has brought the sports world to a standstill. Notre Dame Football has taken unpreceded actions, along with the rest of college football. In these uncertain times, coaches will prioritize keeping players focused physically and mentally. The crucial decisions these next several months will have a major impact on the performance of the Irish this fall.
Spring Football Cancelled
Notre Dame Spring practices didn’t last long. During this time of the year, fans finally get a glimpse at the 2020 version of Notre Dame Football. Coaches get to watch early enrollees battle it out on the gridiron and familiar faces mature from the harsh winter months of strength and conditioning. But with the outbreak of COVID-19 this is no longer possible.
No Blue Gold Game in 2020. The annual spring football game is the culmination of all the hard work that took place over the winter months. For fans at the game and on television, it is the first time that they get to see emerging stars. Although there will eventually be many more practices to come, coaches will not get to see how players handle the pressure in front of thousands of fans at Notre Dame Stadium for a while.
Pass or Fail for Notre Dame Students
Provost Thomas Burish’s Letter to Notre Dame Students. “This semester undergraduate students will have the opportunity to view their final course grades at the end of the semester, and then choose whether to accept their letter grades or elect a pass/ no credit option. Those receiving a letter grade of A through D can choose to receive a pass (P); those receiving an F grade can choose to receive no credit (NC).”
Eligibility should not be an issue for athletes. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, Notre Dame students have been forced into online classrooms. Due to unpreceded circumstances, the University decided to allow this option and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to argue with this decision.
Strength and Conditioning
No more campus workouts. One of the competitive advantages for Notre Dame Football is the strength and conditioning program. Yes, it is 2020 and almost all the elite programs like Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, and others have just as equivalent coaches and trainers.
However, most of these programs that are consistently in the playoffs average higher recruiting classes than the Irish and therefore more 4/5-star athletes. Nevertheless, Notre Dame always competes against these schools in NFL talent.
2020 NFL Combine Invites
- LSU (16)
- Michigan and Ohio State (11)
- Alabama and Georgia (10)
- Auburn, Notre Dame, and Utah (9)
Strength Coach Matt Balis will play vital role. Notre Dame players are no longer working out on campus. In order to keep the players in peak physical shape, the Notre Dame coaching staff will be tasked with finding innovative ways for the players with limited lifting access to maintain their work routines.
Timeline for College Football
Coach Kelly has a tentative date of July 1st. Earlier this week, Brian Kelly was on the Scott Van Pelt Show and said his team needs to start on July 1st, in order to get at least four weeks of training and conditioning in. Looking at the calendar, July 1st is a little over 90 days away. COVID-19 isn’t slowing down, and we can only hope that there are major changes before that date.
What is the cutoff date for the season? Kirk Herbstreit, perhaps the foremost expert and insider of college football, said he would be surprised if there is collegiate football in 2020. Now, there is no set date for college football season to continue or be cancelled. Luckily, unlike spring sports, there is still time to see how the pandemic will play out.
Adapting to Change
Will the Irish be able to travel to Ireland? If Notre Dame can play football this season, will the Irish still be heading overseas to Dublin? Currently, that scenario does not seem likely. In 2012, over 30,000 Americans made the journey from the United States to Dublin, Ireland. Now, that same trip would not seem feasible. Perhaps, Notre Dame and Navy would have to postpone that trip and play the game regionally.
The matchup could take place at Notre Dame Stadium. Even though the Irish and Midshipmen have meet 93 times, they have never played at Navy- Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Fighting Irish always play Navy’s “scheduled home game” at a neutral location.
Recruiting strategy changes. Notre Dame recently picked up a commitment from 4-star defensive end David Abiara. Obviously on-campus visits have been put on hold for the time being. Sadly, for the Irish, getting recruits to campus is one of their major advantages and this period will drastically affect recruiting. Even the Notre Dame-Clemson matchup is going to be a monumental recruiting weekend and it is uncertain whether the game will be played.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Moving forward, Coach Kelly and the staff will continue planning for the upcoming season. Until further notice, the program must move forward in anticipation of a football season. This includes keeping up with academics, strength, dieting, and staying out of trouble. Championships are won or lost in the off-season, and these next several months are critical for coaches.