FNF Coaches Talk — Florida counties planning to break from state association, Colorado coach presses forward safely, top recruits leaving early


Good afternoon, Coaches. Lots of moving parts these days, but here’s what some coaches are planning for the fall.

1. Seven Florida Counties Considering Opting Out Of State Series (Prime Time Preps)

Every state is handling the virus differently, depending on the infection rates in each state. The state of Florida is choosing to let the counties decide the plan for the fall season.

On Monday, the Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors voted to keep the current allowable starting date for practices on July 27 and for schools to declare their state series intention by a certain date. Schools that decide not to participate in the FHSAA playoffs can play regular season games through the end of the state series events on Dec. 12.

In response to that vote, seven Florida counties — Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Manatee, Orange, Osceola and Polk — are considering plans to opt out of the state series and form their own conference for this upcoming school year.

Under the proposal, the eight counties would all start practices after Labor Day. In football, there would be an eight-game regular season schedule with the openers on Sept. 25. The other sports would have roughly nine-week schedules.

All sports would have the option of a bowl or a playoff.

Have you considered opting out of your state’s plan and creating your own league with other teams?

2. How one Colorado high school navigates football in age of COVID-19: “To be on the field, I’d be willing to do anything” (Denver Post)

Mullen High coach Jeremy Bennett is starting at a new school after 15 years as a head coach at another program. He’s trying to give athletes as much support as possible while giving them the opportunity to play.

Bennett and his subordinates have been running OTAs for about a month now, three days a week, two hours per session. The check-in process took a little more than a half-hour at the outset. They can knock it out now in about 10 to 12 minutes.

“If (a temperature) reads high, we let them sit in the shade for a second,” Bennett says. “Then they come back in The Green Room and I shoot them again. If it’s still high, we send them away and I call Mom and Dad.”

Players line up outside The Green Room, a 60-by-40-foot indoor training facility, queued six feet apart. They’re let in one by one, then zapped quickly in the noggin by one of those aforementioned thermometer guns. That temperature is recorded next to that student’s ID number on a form provided by the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment.

After the coronavirus kiboshed spring drills, along with scheduled visits to at least six 7-on-7 tournaments, most of these kids have seen each other for almost two months straight now. And while that’s been great, the COVID data over that corresponding window has been anything but. What if the plug gets pulled again?

“You know, there’s a mental health aspect to this,” Bennett says. “And there are a lot of kids out there, not just at Mullen High School, but everywhere in the state, that this is all they have. This is what makes them go to school, whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, maybe marching band — it keeps their grades (up) and it gives them an opportunity to go to college, and there are a lot of kids that can’t afford to go. Kids get depressed about that. ‘What am I going to do, how and I going to get a scholarship, if we don’t play?’”

How are you juggling keeping your athletes safe vs. the mental health effects associated with not playing?

3. Top recruits choosing college over delayed high school football season (MaxPreps)

A handful of states have already pushed high school football season to 2021, forcing top recruits to make difficult decisions. Stay and play senior year? Graduate in December and enroll early in college? Transfer to a state playing in the fall? Reclassify?

The final option is what 5-star cornerback Tony Grimes of Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) did, announcing on Twitter a switch from the Class of 2021 to 2020 with plans to enroll at North Carolina on Aug. 1.

After the California Interscholastic Federation announced plans to push back its fall season championships to April, some 4- and 5-star recruits announced they plan to enroll into college in January and not play in the spring.

Washington and school districts in the DMV area have followed suit and we have seen more top recruits join some of the best players in California forgoing their senior season.

What advice will you give your top senior recruits if the season gets pushed to the spring?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk