SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Big Ten announced Thursday that it will adopt a ‘conference-only’ schedule for fall sports, including football, during the coronavirus pandemic. The University of South Dakota football team hasn’t had to alter its schedule, but knows plans change.
After finishing 5-7 last fall, South Dakota has high hopes for a bounce back season, but COVID-19 has put at least a portion of that season at risk. Head coach Bob Nielson says the players already put in so much work for so few opportunities.
“You think of all the hours that go into a guaranteed eleven game opportunities on a standard season and so our guys are excited, they’re continuing to invest and work and have a very positive outlook for the fall of 2020,” USD head coach Bob Nielson said.
As conferences across the country ponder their immediate future, the Missouri Valley Football Conference coaches call is set for Monday.
“The Valley calls really represent a chance for schools to share information with where they’re at and what they’re doing, and also from a league perspective, to talk about more global issues,” Nielson.
Nielson was surprised at the timing of the Big Ten’s announcement of a conference-only schedule, but understands the reasoning behind the decision.
“In the Big Ten’s situation, it’s going to require them to restructure their entire schedule. Sounds like they’re going to add a tenth conference game and balance everybody’s schedule. I think the other leagues are certainly taking a more patient approach,” Nielson said.
That includes the Valley and Big 12 conferences. USD is scheduled to open the season at Iowa State.
“We’re still preparing as if we’re going to play on September 5th,” Nielson said.
But the season may hinge on what happens in July.
“The next three weeks here, as we approach August 1st, there’s going to be a lot more clarity nationally in terms of what all this means for college football this fall,” Nielson said.
Nielson says the USD football team has not had any cases of COVID-19. Returning players have been on campus since June 15th for voluntary workouts. The next phase of summer access is scheduled to begin July 24th.