The Journal Gazette
Thursday, March 26, 2020 9:00 pm

Brian Kelly appears on ESPN, talks college football season

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly appeared on Scott Van Pelt's late-night show on ESPN on Wednesday, discussing the state of college football as practices and in-person recruiting have ground to a halt in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

"We're all trying to figure this out," Kelly told the host. "Thirty years of being a head football coach, I thought I had the manual written and read. But no, that's not the case. We're all trying to figure it out. Player safety, student-athlete safety, staff, support staff, making sure that first and foremost everybody is safe. You know, (they're) student-athletes, where's the education piece come in?

"Our football coaches took off the football coach hat and put on the academic support hat and it's been challenging, but it's been fun in that aspect too because it's been something different."

For now, the college football season is not in danger, but Kelly said that could change if some of the mitigating measures taken by state governments and NCAA administrators continue into the summer months. Not only will Notre Dame and the rest of college football lose the remainder of spring practice, but summer workouts are in jeopardy. Without those, it will be difficult to get players in shape for fall camp and if they are not ready for camp, it would be dangerous to send them into full-speed contact drills with pads on.

"There's going to be a date where we all, as college football administrators and coaches, come up with a date from a player-safety standpoint, we have to say, 'This is the date that we can live with to get these young men physically conditioned and ready to go to (fall) camp,'" Kelly said. 

Pressed by Van Pelt on whether he had such a date in mind, Kelly got specific. 

"To me, I think it's July 1," Kelly continued. "If you can't start training your football team by July – you're going to need at least four weeks, strength and conditioning coaches are going to want six. Sports medicine is probably looking at 4-6 weeks. I think the realistic goal here is minimum of four weeks of conditioning before you put them in camp. College football is going to affected if we're not playing in 90 days (from now) in terms of the conditioning element and getting these young men ready."

Notre Dame opened fall camp in 2019 on Aug. 2.

Although the NCAA has placed a moratorium on in-person recruiting for the time being, college football coaches now have a lot of time on their hands to talk with recruits digitally, via social media, text messages or phone calls. And in the midst of all of it, recruits continue to commit: Thursday morning, four-star class of 2021 offensive lineman Landon Tengwall, the No. 45 recruit in the class, chose Penn State over Notre Dame, which was the other school in his final two.

"Every recruit is very popular right now," Kelly said, laughing. "Coaches have plenty of time to be on the phone, to be using FaceTime, all of these social platforms where you can get out. We're being so creative with our (social media) graphics, we're getting a lot of traffic right now. I feel for the young men in the recruiting process right now, they're probably sick of us already and we've only been at it two weeks.

"We've gotta be careful, as well, we've gotta have some semblance of normalcy pretty soon when it comes to recruiting because right now it's unlimited in a sense that you can be on the phone, you can make that one phone call, but they can get back to you every single day."

Kelly added that he is enjoying spending some extended time with his family, which is something he rarely gets to do as a football coach. He also said that he is not having guests of any kind at his house currently.

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