CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — On Saturday morning, the Big Ten announced they were delaying padded practices until further notice. The Illini still haven’t had a full-contact practice, and on their third day of training camp the league only allowed helmets.
“This year going in we had a couple different plans, one of the plans was to be fluid, things could change at any moment,” says head coach Lovie Smith. “You have to just anticipate things like this happening, so it doesn’t throw you off that much.”
The Illini still practiced for a full two-hours, Smith says they were informed about the restrictions about and hour and a half before they started practice.
“If our opponent was operating under different rules, that would be different–it’s not,” says Smith. “We’re all under the same rules, dealing with the same issues, so how ever many we get, that’s how it’ll be.”
The Big Ten’s announcement comes the same day the Mid American Conference decided to cancel the 2020 fall football season. They are the first FBS conference that won’t play football this year. With the college football landscape changing daily, the new restrictions placed on Saturday point towards not having a Big Ten season. Offensive coordinator Rod Smith says they’re still preparing for a September kickoff, but he does have some doubts.
“That’s the fear, you want to be able to coach, you want to be able to impact kids lives, so it’s always the fear of the unknown,” said Rod Smith. “I try to dwell on the positive side, and I just think things are going to happen for a reason, and it’s meant to be. If we’re meant to play, we’re going to play, if we’re not, there’s a reason, but there will be another day that we will play. That’s not in our hands, all we can do is prepare every day.”
The Illini will resume training camp on Sunday. Their first game is scheduled on Thursday, September 3rd at Memorial Stadium against Ohio State.