Kentucky Sports Radio’s Matt Jones broke the story on how the University of Kentucky is planning to bring its football team back to campus. The first phase is to bring back 30-40 players who already are in Kentucky, or never left Lexington during the quarantine, on or about June 8th. The remainder of the roster will return to campus in stages of 10-20 players per week until the team is complete. Obviously, appropriate testing will occur for all returning personnel.
There is a whole lot to process in the above paragraph. Just how will the players be chosen to return? Will it be as simple as geography? Or, will there be a more specific strategy applied for the phases of return? I would guess there is a great deal of strategy involved.
First and foremost, Kentucky will have a well thought out and strategic plan. Mark Stoops is a calculated man and coach. He has a plan for every aspect of his football program. His support staff, led by Chief of Staff Dan Berezowitz, is extremely strong. After working with “Brez” I can assure you this: through Stoops’ guidance, the UK Football Program is an organized machine and plans for every imaginable contingency. This will be an extremely thought out process.
Full disclosure, I have not spoken with anyone at UK about the team’s re-entry to campus, but I do have a few theories:
1. Bring back the starters in the first group of 30-40 players in order to maximize the time on campus preparing for the season. This obviously includes the quarterbacks who missed out on valuable practice time due to the cancellation of spring practice and potential contributors that are rehabilitating injuries.
2. Go in reverse order. Bring back the freshmen first to get in extra work then phase in the return of the more experienced players that should be held to a higher standard and expected to have worked out on their own during quarantine. This is the way it used to work during fall camp. Freshmen were brought in a week early to become familiar with practice tempo and terminology prior to bringing back the older players.
It will be interesting to see how UK and other SEC programs will execute the player’s return. The success, or lack thereof, of this process could mean the differences in wins and losses during a potentially condensed season. We’ll see.