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Gary Andersen - Utah State Aggies
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Gary Andersen: If Teams Can’t Practice By June 1, Only Conf. Games Should Be Played

Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen talks to his team at the end of scrimmage Saturday, March 30, 2019, at Maverik Stadium in Logan. Courtesy of Jeff Hunter/Deseret News.

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen thinks that the upcoming college football should be shortened if players can’t start some sort of mini camp by June 1.

The Aggies held two spring football practices before the rest of spring was canceled due to the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

That has forced Utah State and every other college football program in the country into a tough situation. Spring football is used to develop the young talent, get familiar with the schemes and battle for starting spots.

Now that the Aggies won’t be having spring football practices or the spring game, Andersen had a suggestion of what the NCAA should do if they will not be allowed to practice by June 1.

“My biggest fear is that if we don’t get them back here in June and then we have time to put them through an eight-week cycle to give them a chance to get into shape before camp, the injuries will go through the roof and that scares me,” Andersen stated. “If we can’t get them back here on June 1 and give them that time, then we need to take a long hard look at cutting back the number of games that these kids are going to play this year. Maybe we just play conference games. Space those out through 10 weeks. Obviously, I have had a lot of time to think about this.”

Impact Of The Coronavirus

COVID-19 has made an impact on every aspect of the world, sports and otherwise.

“The impact of the virus has been extreme,” Andersen said. “We just talked about our kids (players), we were two days into spring ball, a lot of hard work went into getting to that point, it was a grinder of an off-season, getting stronger mentally and physically as far as football goes. Then all of a sudden, life which was normal completely changed.”

Now the country is being asked to distance themselves from large groups and try to stay home as much as possible.

“I sent out a video about social distancing,” Andersen stated. “To me, that is such a great time for our youth to look and say ‘hey, do what you are told,’ and in this time, it is imperative that we do that. It doesn’t have to be for yourself but it should be for the elderly because this virus affects them.”

No Spring Football

This hiatus has impacted college football but also every other sport that was in-season including the NCAA men’s basketball tournament where the Aggies were set to make their second straight appearance in the big dance. But, on the football side, not having spring football was a big deal for the coaching staff.

“Not having spring ball was a big deal, “Andersen laughed. “The kids look forward to that but as far as a coaching standpoint it is a setback. We had two practices and we are hopeful that we will get some of those practices back. I don’t believe they will be in pads nor do I believe that they should be in pads.”

If the sports world goes back to somewhat normal by June 1, Andersen had an idea of how the student-athletes can get their off-season conditioning in by have a mini camp similar to the NFL.

“The dream of mine would be to come back on June 1 and have 9 to 12 days where we can have an NFL-style mini camp,” Andersen said. “Have three practices in three days then go do some work in the weight room and repeat that cycle three or four times. We don’t need to bang them (in pads) and scrimmage them but we do need to be able to coach them, film them and then put them in the class room and the meeting rooms and we need to get them in the weight room and get them prepared.”

With all of the uncertainty and things changing by the hour, Andersen only cares about one thing. The well-being of his players. Something that he has always preached during his time coaching football.

“We have to keep the kids at the forefront,” mentioned Andersen. “I know we have lost revenue and all those things and I understand that those things are important. But, they are not more important than putting kids in positions to be safe and allow them to prepare to play at the best of their ability.”

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