While the Pac-12 is gearing up for the start of preseason football practices, there are still serious concerns about the spread of the coronavirus and the conference is doing its best to proceed with caution.
Two head coaches in the conference have first-hand experience with the seriousness of COVID-19.
UCLA head coach Chip Kelly had coronavirus in the spring and Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin is currently dealing with it, having tested positive this past week.
Sumlin, who was tested last week and got a positive result confirmed over the weekend, said during Wednesday’s Pac-12 virtual media day that he’s feeling “all right.”
“It’s a process that’s unfortunate, but we’ll see where we are at the end of the week,” he said while wearing a mask and doing the interview from the bedroom in his home. “I don’t have symptoms and neither does my son. I get up in the morning, go through a checklist with him and how he feels. It’s a tough time but we’re getting through it.”
Sumlin said it has not been determined whether he will be at practice when the Wildcats open preseason camp this weekend.
Sumlin said he’s not sure how he got the virus, but said, “The lesson is this thing is serious. No matter what precautions you have, you have to be extremely aggressive about your protection about your health, as well as others. You cannot be too careful. You just can’t.”
Kelly said he and his wife both got the coronavirus. He said they left their house just once, to go to a store, while wearing masks and gloves.
“You hear about all these super-spreader events and non-social distancing and big parties and all these others things, but you don’t have to be exposed to it that way,” he said. “You can be exposed in other ways. It’s really 24/7 that you have to vigilant with it.
“I probably only had one day where I felt like I had a cold. My wife was a little bit longer. It’s something very serious that we all have to take very seriously. What I learned early on in this process is you can get it at any time, even if you are being extremely diligent with it.”
While Sumlin and Kelly have had their personal stories with coronavirus, a quarter of the conference went into Wednesday’s media day still unable to practice. Colorado, California and Stanford were still waiting to get clearance from their counties to practice.
All three schools are hoping to get that clearance by Thursday.
“We’re in constant communication with Santa Clara County,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said.
USC and Arizona State will get the Pac-12 season started on Nov. 7 with a 9 a.m. kickoff in Los Angeles (10 a.m. MDT). It will be the earliest kickoff in Pac-12 history, according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, but likely won’t be the only game in that time slot this year.
Coaches were mixed on their feelings about the early kickoffs, but Utah’s Kyle Whittingham is ready for morning games.
“Whatever the maximum willingness level is, that’s where we’re at,” Whittingham said. “Doesn’t bother us a bit. We would take as many of those as they offer to us.”
Whittingham started his session by paying tribute to legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who died Tuesday. Wearing an Eddie Van Halen T-shirt, Whittingham called him, “One of the great ones,” and referred to him as one of the top five guitarists of all time, also ranking Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck among the elite. … USC head coach Clay Helton said receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is in “by far the best shape I’ve seen him in. he’s put himself in position to have a great third season.” St. Brown caught 77 passes for 1,042 yard and six touchdowns in 2019 after posting 60 catches for 750 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman in 2018.