CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Illinois football should be in the middle of spring practices, instead the team is spread out across the country due to coronavirus. Head coach Lovie Smith has immediate family on the front lines battling the virus. Craig Choate has more from his 30-minute teleconference with the media on Friday.
The Illini head coach is taking the same approach as the rest of the country, bunkering down at home. But two of his family members are in the middle of the battle.
“My sister-in-law is a doctor in Louisiana. My daughter-in-law, Kara of course, works at Carle in Champaign,” Lovie said. “You talk about some MVPs, those are two definite MVPs we have right in the immediate Smith family here.”
The Illinois coaches are allowed eight hours of contact per week with their team. They can’t coach them in person, but Lovie can still hold them accountable via video chat.
“If we were in the building what would we be doing? I think you can do everything that way, Lovie added. “If you don’t trust someone you can make them, just by video, you can make them weight themselves in front of you. Whatever you want them to do, you can have them do remotely on video by video to be able to see it.”
Coming off their first bowl since 2014, spring ball was going to be crucial in keeping that momentum. Lovie says losing the practices doesn’t bother him that much, he even thinks it might help a program like Illinois.
“What we’re finding having to meet remotely and the technology that’s available nowadays I think you can even gain ground,” Lovie said.
As for when he thinks they might be on the field again, he’s keeping a glass half full mentality, while also keeping things in perspective.
“In an ideal world, our guys are back for summer and we can start our summer workouts but if that doesn’t happen, whenever we can get them in is fine,” Lovie said. “In an ideal world, we would like to go through a full training camp but if that doesn’t happen we’ll adjust and once they say “turn the lights on” I think everybody has to be ready to turn the lights on.”
He finished the call by saying that to his knowledge no one in the program has had a scare of COVID-19.