HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) _ “Nineteen weeks/Where we can’t dine together/We can’t touch at all/Lemme know where to stand to avoid a fall …
With an apology to The Dan issued from here on the Isle of Isolation ...
- Like everybody else, University of Southern Mississippi football coach Jay Hopson never had had to deal with the likes of COVID-19.
But Hopson said he may be one of the few coaches in the country who has dealt with the absence of many things the coronavirus has taken away, football-wise.
Eight years ago, Hopson was hired as head football coach at Alcorn State University, a position that had remained vacant for some seven months before he came aboard in June 2012.
“They were trying to figure out what to do with the program,” Hopson said. “So, I’m hired June 1, our first practice was like Aug. 5 and kickoff (of) the first game was August twenty-something.
“Heck, I hired my staff in mid-July.”
So, Hopson and his Braves headed into the 2012 football season without a spring practice, without an offseason workout program and with a compressed summer session for coaches to evaluate players and players to get to know their coaches.
“Oh, and there were about 15 to 20 guys who had left before I got there because they weren’t sure what was going on,” Hopson said.
Flash forward eight years. Hopson and the Golden Eagles are staring into the unknown, as the coronavirus continues to smolder and burn its way across the globe, seeming to die down only to re-ignite and spread again.
The virus cost USM spring practice, curtailed offseason workouts. Voluntary conditioning commenced under protocols.
“I might be the only guy in the country who’s been through this,” Hopson said of the disruption. “I have been through this before.”
A number of programs and/or conferences across the country have responded to the coronavirus threat by curtailing their fall schedules or dropping all autumn competition.
USM faces a hole in its home schedule after the Southwestern Athletic Conference cancelled fall play, including football. The Golden Eagles were to have hosted a SWAC member, Jackson State University, on Sept. 19 at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Whether that opening gets filled may be moot.
USM and its league, Conference USA, have taken a wait-and-see approach, hoping the virus simmers down enough to safely play some version of a football season. Whether that will happen remains to be seen.
But without marching orders to the contrary, Hopson and the Golden Eagles are fixin’ to gear up and start getting ready for the Sept. 5 season opener with the University of South Alabama.
First practice: Aug. 5.
“We’re certainly planning on playing,” Hopson said. “We all know it’s not going to be the usual, but when the foot hits that ball, you better be ready.
“You can’t dance into the unknown. We have to look at it like, right now, we’re playing.”
- Speaking of dancing, was driving to grab some grub and thought we heard the immediately-recognizable opening bass line laid down by Willie and the Po’ Boys in CCR’s classic.
But we had to do a double-take at the radio ID, which had come up as “Down on the Corn.”
Good tune, but sounded awfully derivative.
- Are we the only who has noticed when you get a box order from KFC, like say biscuits or a two-piece, you gotta rip open the Colonel’s head to get to the food inside?
- From the Oh-You-Have-Got-To-Be-Kiddin'-Us file: Saw a story where a woman in North Carolina was attacked in bed by a rabid fox, which had used the dog door to enter the home.
The critter apparently wandered in, entered the bedroom and jumped up on the bed, first biting the woman on the finger before clamping down on her ankle.
The woman pinned the fox, ankle still in mouth, in place with one hand, while dialing 9-1-1 with the other.
How you’d like to be in your first week on the job and get that phone call.
“9-1-1, how may I help you.”
“Yes. Hi. Look, I have a fox on my ankle, well, actually, kind of gnawing on my ankle, and I need you to send someone.”
“Yes. Uh, could you repeat that.”
“I’m on my bed, with a fox biting my ankle, and...”
“Wait, you’re where?”
“In my bedroom, on my bed.”
“With a fox that’s …”
“... got my ankle in its mouth, yes.”
“Uh-huh. Look, who is this? Did Marlene put you up to this?”
- Be kind. Be wary. Be smart. Be safe.