It’s one of those weeks that I have several thoughts running around in my head, and rather than focus only on one and ignore the others we’ll skip around to touch on as many as we have room for.
When Phil Jensen stepped down from coaching at Warsaw, he was just glad to be alive to make that choice.
He had fallen from of the attic of his home and suffered a serious head injury. God’s grace is why he is still with us.
He kept coaching, because he wanted to, and because he could.
So when he announced to his Tiger team in the Tiger Den that winter day that he was stepping down from coaching—this time for good—we were all happy for him. He was able to go out on his own terms.
But coaches coach. That’s what they do, because that’s who they are.
And he became the coach at Whitko.
The Wildcats were coming off a one-win season in 2018. Outside of their 28-22 loss in the sectional to Prairie Heights, all nine of their losses were by 14 points or more. They were shutout in their first three games and four times in their first six outings.
With Jensen as coach, they went 0-10 in 2019. They were shut out four times.
But 2020 has been a different story. The ‘Cats are 2-1 and have scored 64 points in three games, including 28 in a very satisfying win over Rochester last Friday.
I won’t predict where their season will end up. It’s virtually impossible to predict what one teenager will do, let alone 40 together, right?
Nonetheless, a tip-of-the-cap to the coaches and players who had the courage to be different this season. From 1-29 to 2-1 shows signs of winning people in the program.
It starts at the top.
There is smoke coming from the Big Ten that they might try to put together a football season after all. Maybe a short season in November and December, maybe one in the spring—who knows?
Here is the problem: Only slightly more predictable than what a group of high school kids is going to do is predicting what a group of college kids are going to do.
They are going to do what they want, including breaking the rules.
Of course, not every single one. But if your response to that last paragraph includes the phrases “well my kid is in college and they aren’t drinking or smoking or doing drugs or having sex” or “I know my college kid better than anyone and they wouldn’t do those things,” you might want to consider a surprise visit to campus sometime.
That’s why the college football season has almost no hope of any realistically being completed.
At the heart of the issue is the fact the NCAA has no power over and claims little responsibility for college football.
You read that right.
Without leadership, well, you see what football has become. It’s no surprise.
College kids have the power in this scenario to make the choices needed to prevent COVID-19 from invading their locker rooms.
But will they?
On the subject of COVID, Goshen had a case on their football team and they will miss two games because of it.
It was destined to happen, and Goshen isn’t the only school to have it happen.
No judgement should be cast on them.
But it brings up a question for the Northern Lakes Conference (and all the others): What happens when the football team that misses two games because of COVID goes undefeated in their other five games? They didn’t lose, so do they claim a share of the conference championship? Are the standings based on winning percentage, number of wins…what?
Unfortunately, like so many other things in 2020, there are no clear answer for that right now.
Sure, you can heap criticism on the administrators for that if you choose, but you shouldn’t.
You should put it into the category of “bridges to cross when you get to them.” The unprecedented nature of so many things we have, and will, deal with just mean unconventionality rules and creativity with fairness should be applauded.
They will do the right thing in the end.
Like everything else, we’ll just have to see what happens, and be ready to adjust.