Fort Hays State football coach Chris Brown says the FHSU coaching staff is constantly imploring its players to take the COVID-19 threat seriously and abide by recommended guidelines.
In order for a 2020 college football season to happen, Brown is hoping others will do the same.
“Hopefully people will do the things that they’re supposed to do,” Brown said. “Stay home, work on social distancing, wash their hands. If they’re sick, they don’t go out. It really kind of comes down to what we’re doing right now in our communities.
“We got to make the right choices, we got to listen to what the federal government is telling us to do. I think if we do those things, we’ll have a season. But if we continue to be selfish and not do the things we’re supposed to, we might not have one.
“I hope people make the right choices and take the right steps to make sure we have a 2020 football season.”
The Tigers had completed just two spring practices in early March before the NCAA banned all sports activities because of coronavirus concerns.
“It all came to a halt pretty quick,” said Brown, who is entering his 10th season at FHSU. “It was a smart decision by everybody, by the NCAA making us doing the things we’re doing just to try to keep the kids safe.
“I wanted to keep every kid on campus here with me putting them in the indoor facility, lock the doors down so they couldn’t go anywhere and have a chance of getting this virus. But school closes down and the kids go home, so hopefully they’re taking the right steps to (stay safe.)”
In that respect, Brown said he keeps steady communication with his players and firmly urges them to follow the recommended guidelines.
“It’s constant. I send out a text about every two days making sure they make the right choices,” Brown said. “Making sure that they understand the severity of this disease that’s going on, and that they’re doing things the right way. It not only harms them, but it could harm somebody in their family.
“It’s not just about them, it’s about those around them and not hurting those around them by making the right choices themselves. Hopefully they’re doing that. If they do come back to Hays, we tell them to do a 14-day quarantine in their home.
“We’re trying to do our part to stop this spread of the virus. Hopefully everybody else is.”
Brown said the players have regular video meetings with their position groups. Online classes have also been an adjustment for some.
“Some kids are really good at online classes, some kids have never taken online classes, so we’re making sure they stay on top of that,” Brown said.
Brown said strength and conditioning coach Doug Boucher sends the players workouts they can do individually.
“It’s hard not having them as a group, but it comes down to them being mature enough and disciplined enough and having the will to go out and do this on their own,” Brown said. “It’s hard when you’re working by yourself to really get a good workout in because you don’t have that motivation there of somebody else pushing you, but it’s something our kids have to do to get themselves better each and every single day.”
The impact on recruiting has been minimal, Brown said.
“It’s more the junior college kids we’re looking to bring in here in June or July to actually be here on campus and work out,” Brown said. “We can’t go out to California or out to Texas or Kansas or Iowa just to find some kids that can help us out for next year. Now, it’s just more phone recruiting.”
The Tigers weren’t in pads for their two spring practices. If the season ends up occurring, Brown hopes the NCAA will allow for more practice time.
“They’ve got to come up with something to give us a little extra time with these kids before the season starts or they won’t be prepared,” Brown said. “They might be a little out of shape, and they’re not going through the same routine that they’re used to.
“We’ve got to get them back in shape and get them ready for this upcoming season.”
The Tigers’ season opener is set for Sept. 3 against Northwest Missouri State at Lewis Field Stadium. The team is preparing as though that game will occur, Brown said.
“It’s going to come to the discipline and the accountability and the want to win,” Brown said. If they want to win, they’ll do the things the right way. If they don’t, they’ll be immature and not make the right choices. I think with this group of guys, they want to win, and I think they’re going to do things the right way.”