In the SEC, it just means more waiting.
Before the SEC announced a 10-game conference schedule would be played this fall, the Kentucky football team was preparing for preseason practice to begin tomorrow. Now they will have to wait almost two more weeks before they can put on pads.
In the latest report from Sports Illustrated, Ross Dellenger outlines the new preseason training schedule approved by league officials this week. The first SEC football practices will be held Monday, Aug. 17, ten days later than most teams originally expected. This will not follow the typical training camp schedule. Schools must adhere to the NCAA’s normal in-season football access time of 20 countable hours a week, with two off days a week required.
Even though coaches are spending fewer hours per week with players in the preseason, this plan will give teams 11 more days of practice ahead of their first game than in a typical season. Schools will have 40 days to complete 25 practice. A schedule has not yet been released, but all teams are expected to kick off Sept. 26.
In the meantime, the SEC is scaling back the time coaches can spend with players. Before this decision was made coaches could spend 20 hours per week with players, dividing the time between walk-throughs, meetings and the weight room. Next week that will be reduced to only 11 hours, limiting players to six in the weight room and five in walk-throughs.
Now that the facts have been presented, let me tell you that they are stupid.
By going to a conference-only schedule, reserves lost at least three vital opportunities to put game reps on tape. While that may not seem like much, it provided Brad White more than enough teaching opportunities for J.J. Weaver to learn from this offseason. The value of those game reps is immeasurable. Those reps could not be accurately replicated by an additional preseason scrimmage or two, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. An extended preseason would give those young players more opportunities than what they will see once the season begins this fall.
Preseason camp is being extended by a little more than one week, even though the season is being delayed three weeks. The motive behind this decision is not to give players more time to arrive on campus — everyone is already there. There’s only one explantation: in the SEC, it doesn’t actually mean more.
The new preseason schedule is officially official. You can read the entire news release from the SEC here.