OXFORD • When normalcy returns to college athletics the time away will have a bigger impact on some teams than others, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said.
No one can pin a date on the calendar for “normalcy” just yet.
As spring football has been wiped out for everyone coaches are hoping for some kind of NCAA response that will allow for additional contact with players before the traditional start of practice.
Teams like Ole Miss, which hired a new coach in Kiffin and a staff full of assistants in the off-season, are at a greater disadvantage.
The absence of spring practice was one of a number of topics discussed by Kiffin on a teleconference with local media on Tuesday.
“If I was still at FAU it would not be as big a deal,” said Kiffin, whose Florida Atlantic teams won Conference USA championships twice in his three seasons there. “My thought on that, with all this time to think is if we didn’t have it at all, that really hurts first-year coaching staffs and programs.”
So what’s lost when spring practice is wiped away?
“Oh, a million things,” Kiffin said. “One of the big things in coaching is understanding your players and how to coach them. There’s no way to figure that out in a classroom. Then you lose them getting to know each other from a playing standpoint.’
All first-year coaching staffs are not created equal, and Ole Miss is at a disadvantage there too.
The Rebels are scheduled for a Sept. 5 season opener against Baylor in Houston, Texas.
Baylor also has a new coach and staff as former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda takes over for Matt Rhule.
But Aranda inherits a team that played in the Sugar Bowl last year with a senior quarterback in Charlie Brewer who’s made 30 career starts.
Kiffin at some point will try to find his quarterback from a wide-open competition that will go four players deep.
John Rhys Plumlee, who started eight games last year, and Matt Corral, who started four, figure to be the leaders when the competition begins.
Both are sophomores, though, Corral, who redshirted in 2018, has another year in the program.
Redshirt freshmen Grant Tisdale and Kinkead Dent will compete as well.
“If we miss all spring obviously fall would have to be sped up a little bit to get some things figured out. You can’t give everybody reps forever. We’ll play it by ear.”
For now there’s very little contact between coaches and players. Most of what is allowed revolves around academics.
“Obviously they can look at playbooks and things like that, and iPads, they have stuff on them. At some point I think we’ll get into where we’ll be able to do group meetings with them almost like having meetings before a practice. We can send them workouts. They’re not required to do them nor can they report back,” Kiffin said. “Even if they were in Oxford we’re not allowed to work them out. We’re really in a holding pattern here.”