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Tentative Restart

The nation is slowly allowing sports to resume in some form or fashion, and it is slow-going. Vito reported that three members of the football team tested positive for COVID-19.

The NCAA committee recommended a six-week calendar to start. It prescribes a tiered practice approach, balancing COVID-19 safety with the need to prepare athletes for violent physical contact that is the nature of football.

We usually have a rough idea of what to expect of the upcoming season by this time — the usual college football preview magazines are nearing finalization about now in typical season — but we have no idea what this upcoming season will bring.

Sports is tremendously routine. Practice, games, preparation and nearly every activity is built on the foundation of knowing what is coming next. Everything will be different now.

It is an interesting challenge to the coaches, who all hail from the church of “no distractions” to deal with twin gigantic capital-D Distractions in the form of a global pandemic and a civil rights outcry.

A good portion of the culture-building in a program is saying “this is how we do things” and using seniors to reinforce that continuity. Crisis change is a good time to build new habits, however. NT is in the midst of one of its best runs in program history, but that is objectively not anything impressive to many other programs.

NT was at the precipice of 10-wins twice in the Littrell tenure and failed to get there. Last season was a failure in many ways — a senior QB, talented offensive weapons, etc — and a non-bowl season that brought the firing of the offensive coordinator.

The smart money did not have NT seriously competing for much this season. This was always going to be a ‘retooling’ year. Breaking in a new QB, and adjusting to a coordinators always meant that NT was going to struggle. UAB is bringing back a lot of talent and won the division.

La Tech is always talented, and Southern Miss is on the upswing 1. Rice is somewhere in that tier there, having beaten NT last year in Houston.

The biggest factor in modern football is the quarterback, and North Texas had one of the league’s best for four seasons. The uncertainty at that position is still there, just with added global and national uncertainty backing it all.

  1. They are basically where NT was in 2017 — loads of talent, had a better year than anyone expected, etc

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