FNF Coaches Talk — North Carolina coaches adapt, college coaches have concerns about scheduling, page-turners for coaches

Welcome back, Coaches. We hope you’re staying healthy and safe. We’ve got three good stories for you.

1. Coronavirus: ‘Uncharted territory’ forces North Carolina football coaches, players to adapt (Citizen Times)

Coaches are trying to figure out how to keep players connected and motivated during this period, and we’re all figuring it out on the fly. The No. 1 priority for every coach should be to make sure your players are safe and healthy during this period. Once that has been established, we do want to find ways to connect and also keep the team moving in the right direction just in case this situation extends into the summer.

Asheville (N.C.) High’s first-year head coach Cort Radford said the lack of contact has made it difficult to implement a new offense and defense for his team, but he’s found ways to teach. He found an app that he can share with his players that allows them to break down plays and be quizzed afterward about their assignments.

He’s also instituted online workouts that are alternatives to weight training since every kid does not have access to weights. All area gyms have been closed, and local athletes are not allowed to access their high school gyms.

“There are certain things you just can’t replace with technology,” Radford said. “But we are doing our best in this situation, and I think the kids are really responding to it.”

Brevard High (N.C.) coach Craig Pritchett said he has seen kids get inventive when it comes to lifting weights. Some are lifting couches in their homes, doing handstand push-ups on the wall, running up hills or challenging each other to push-up competitions over social media.

“There are just not enough things in your house to replicate a weight room,” Pritchett said. “It’s a huge loss for these kids, especially the younger guys who need this time to develop.”

Summertime is a period of development for high school football players. Many compete in 7-on-7 tournaments with their team, and top area recruits use that time to visit college campuses and make life-changing decisions about their future.

All that could be in jeopardy.

Erwin football coach Rodney Pruett said he’s expecting to have to adjust his summer schedule because of the spread of the coronavirus.

“I’m preparing to not have my kids the entire summer,” he said. “I believe in safe rather than sorry, and with football putting so many kids in close proximity, it’s hard to imagine us being able to be together. It’s a new world and it’s not going away.”


What are some ways in which you have successfully motivated your players during this period?

2. College Football Coaches Forced to Go ‘Old School’ With Summer Training (Sports Illustrated)

Before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the sports world, most college coaches didn’t reach the halfway point in spring practice and some never even started drills. As campus closures extend through summer, a date to begin organized football activities grows hazier. Many coaches have gone four weeks without seeing their players, an absence that could stretch to at least three months by the end of the outbreak. Teaching is relegated to videos, meetings are electronic and training is at the discretion of the player.

“I go back to 25 years ago when it was not the norm for the players to be on campus during the summer,” says South Florida coach Jeff Scott. “Everybody went home after spring and came back for camp. You had a month of practices. We might find ourselves in that situation again.”

Many coaches at the FBS level are concerned about their players keeping to regimented strength and nutrition programs. For players less fortunate, home life may prevent them from doing each consistently—or at all. In fact, some football staff members were hoping their conference or university would allow some players to remain on campus under their care.

“We have kids below the poverty line. We sent some of them back to unhealthy situations,” says one SEC assistant who wished to remain anonymous. “Got some kids homeless. What the f— are we doing? We have the access to help these guys. The safest place for those kids is on campus.”


How will your plan for preseason workouts change if you are unable to see your players until late July?

3. Page Turners for Coaches and Learners: Books worth your (down) time (USA Football Blog)

One positive about the stay-at-home order is we all have plenty of time to read books.

Football coaches with unexpected free time this spring can stay sharp during downtime with favorite coaching books of USA Football staff members.

From X’s & O’s to rugby and rowing, check out one of these titles.

Here’s one we’ve seen recommended a couple of times in the last few months.

“The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life” by Jim Tressel
This book challenges readers to step out of their comfort zone. A series of questions conclude each chapter allowing the reader to take a personal inventory. A lot of books that I have read tell you the “What,” as in “what” you need to do. This books tells you the “what,” but more importantly, the “how.” Readers gain a personal assessment of where they are and are walked through exercises on how to get where they want to be.


What is your favorite book for coaches?

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