What can we expect for the fall football season? Thoughts from AD Cohen

Lee Witherspoon runs towards the end zone at the Bulldog's home game against the University of Southern Mississippi. The Bulldogs won 38-15.

Mississippi State University released an article stating they would be looking into "innovative and best alternative practices" in regard to athletics. MSU Athletic Director John Cohen discussed the options the university is considering for the football season this fall. 

"We are looking at every possible alternative. In other words, we have looked at a 10 game season. We have looked at a 12 game season. We have looked at SEC games only. We have looked at if we were forced to replace some of our nonconference opponents. We have looked at how many folks do we feel like we are gonna be able to get into our football stadium, what does that look like, what do the guidelines look like for our local and state governments at that moment two months from now, so there is a lot to consider," Cohen said.

Cohen said he has a positive outlook on what the football season might look like this fall. 

"I will tell you personally, and there are no facts behind this, but personally, I am glass half full. … I am having a positive attitude about us playing football this fall. I think there is going to be an avenue for football this fall, but again, the next two months are gonna tell us a lot," Cohen said. 

When asked about limiting fans in the Davis Wade stadium this fall Cohen emphasized it will depend on guidelines from the state and local governments. 

"We feel like we are going to be able to have fans. The question is, is it a 20% of capacity? Is it 40 or 80? We just don't know that number yet. A lot of it again is going to depend on our state and local guidelines," Cohen said. 

Cohen said the typical amount of time needed to prepare for a football season is six weeks, but he emphasized the importance of dedicating more time to starting strength and conditioning earlier to prevent injuries.

Student athletes were allowed to return to campus on June 8 for "voluntary workouts." If players chose to return for these voluntary workouts, they were required to be tested for COVID-19. The university is waiting to hear from the NCCA on when teams can return to practice. 

Cohen discussed some of the ways the university planned to keep student athletes safe upon their return to campus.

"Everything from the tents that they will check into, and they will be screened on a daily basis, to the way our laundry is done, the way they enter the weight room, the way they exit the weight room—everything is choreographed to make sure that we have efficiency and safety," Cohen said.

Cohen said Head Football Coach Mike Leach has continued to build connections with his players via Zoom and Webex, but Leach and his coaching staff are certainly looking forward to working with players one-on-one on the field again.

At the end of the day Cohen said he thinks it is important for fans to recognize they need to make their own decisions based on their personal health when it comes to attending games this fall. 

"At some level, I think fans are going to have to make decisions with their own health and safety, and they're going to have to make personal decisions at some point, at some level just like they would going anywhere at this point," Cohen said. 

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