(Stats Perform) – The tweet from Southern Illinois football said it all on Friday:
“We’re backkkkk” in boldface.
Amid all the swirling talk about whether or not there will be college football this fall, teams that have a Week Zero game scheduled for Aug. 29 were allowed to begin preseason camp one week prior to those that kick off their campaign in Week 1 in early September.
Schedules are in flux nationally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Southern Illinois announced last weekend it added an Aug. 29 game at Big 12 member Kansas, and that made the Salukis eligible to be among the first FCS teams to get going on Friday. The Missouri Valley Football Conference program is beginning its fifth season under coach Nick Hill after finishing 7-5 last year.
“I’m all on-board with getting back to football, as long as our doctors and health officials tell us it’s safe for us to play,” Hill said.
Due to the pandemic, six of the 13 FCS conferences have announced they won’t have a fall season, instead hoping to play in the spring semester if health conditions are deemed safe. The remaining seven conferences – MVFC, Big Sky, Big South, Ohio Valley, Pioneer, Southern and Southland – plus FCS independents will likely determine next week if they will have a fall season. Should there be one, schedules will likely be shorter and in some cases conference-only.
Two defending conference co-champs, Austin Peay (Ohio Valley) and Central Arkansas (Southland), are scheduled to meet in the FCS Kickoff on Aug. 29 in Montgomery, Alabama – the first game between two subdivision teams. Those programs were set to open practices this weekend, including Austin Peay on Saturday.
Despite the cloud of uncertainty looming over the season, new Austin Peay coach Marquase Lovings said, “We’ve got to control what we can control, and that’s our effort.”