FAYETTEVILLE – The SEC by 10 days dashed its 14 teams hopes of restoring most of the 15 football practice dates they never had last spring because of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Yet or the long run, if indeed there is any run to this still COVID-19 threatened season, postponing the scheduled Aug. 7 start of SEC preseason practice to Aug. 17 could prove positive for many reasons.
Foremost it was medically recommended and developed by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.
That same group advised in the plan delaying the SEC football season start of a 12-game season from the original Sept. 7 to a 10-game conference games only season starting Sept. 26 as the virus continues raging throughout portions of the SEC’s 11 states.
From the pure football sense, Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman craved the Aug. 7 practice start. Pittman craved it because as a new head coach with a new staff he wants all time he can evaluating players he’s never coached.
However this delayed start could save Pittman and fellow SEC coaches from themselves. Aug. 17 to Sept. 26 already means more than a month to practice before the first game. Start this Friday and the grind practicing without a game can reduce a currently eager team to mentally fatigued and injury depleted before kickoff.
Longtime Arkansas fans recall Lou Holtz, who could seem to do wrong his first three Arkansas seasons going 11-1, 9-2-1 and 10-2 from 1977-79, physically and mentally draining his Razorbacks with three-a-days in withering August heat prepping the 1980 Sept. 1 season-opener against Texas. It resulted in perhaps the longest 6-5 season in Arkansas’ history.
One plus post 1980, the NCAA increasingly limited practice times and dates. SEC teams can only practice 25 times between Aug. 17 and Sept. 26 and practice no more than 20 hours per week and two off days per week.
Before Aug. 17, the Razorbacks can use 14 hours a week for conditioning, meetings and noncontact walkthroughs.