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FootballScoop Q&A: We talked to a coach who had his season canceled

It's been a terrible week for college football -- one of the worst on record (so far). This week has seen the a number of conferences announce they will not play football this fall, most notably the Ivy League. The Big Ten also announced it will not play non-conference games this fall, a move that many fear is merely just the first step to announcing it won't play any games at all.

But the Ivy League was not the first conference to cancel its fall 2020 season. That distinction belongs to the Centennial Conference, a Division III league filled with high-achieving academic schools in the mid-Atlantic.

"Given health and other related concerns, the Centennial Conference Presidents Council has decided to suspend any inter-collegiate competition for sports scheduled for the fall semester," the league announced Tuesday. "The presidents will reevaluate this decision by the end of September, based on work to be done by the Conference to assess sports-specific activities and the experiences on the schools’ campuses. The presidents have determined football will not be played in the fall. The Conference will also explore the possibility of shifting certain fall sports, including football, to the spring."

In the hours after the Centennial's move was announced, FootballScoop spoke with Johns Hopkins head coach Greg Chimera. This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

FootballScoop: Let's start here -- how are you feeling right now?
Chimera: I kind of wrapped my head around this possibility a few weeks ago, so (it's) less of a shock to get the news today. It's something I was expecting. I was just more feeling for my guys, especially my seniors. We've got certain situations where they're going to graduate in December, so I just feel for the players more than myself. I was expecting something similar to this, and a lot of the coaches in our conference were. We met as head coaches of the Centennial (Conference) in the past couple weeks and months, and a lot of us were thinking spring would be the best chance to get a full season in, so I'm hoping that this can somehow be a blessing in disguise.

FootballScoop: How confident are you that you'll be able to play in the spring?
Chimera: It's possible. I haven't heard the likelihood or anything like when a decision deadline would be. But they did say it's possible so I'm holding out hope that by this winter, hopefully there's a vaccine or just the virus slowing down or people figuring out how to deal with it in a more effective manner that somehow the spring could be a better chance to get some games in.

FootballScoop: This is what I'm perhaps most curious about, but you may not be able to answer it. How are you going to fill your time this fall with no season on the immediate horizon?
Chimera: That's a good question. I haven't really gotten that far yet. I'm looking at it as, the fall will be what traditionally is spring ball, and find a way to acclimate the incoming freshmen to learn what our culture is and what our program is about, teach as much as we can football-wise, obviously being limited with practice, and then hopefully have a chance to play in the spring with six months of getting some football knowledge and lifting. Hopefully it's a blessing in disguise and now we're six months older, six months more into our scheme and six months further along with our team and our culture that hopefully it's a good thing.

FootballScoop: How have you stayed busy over the past weeks and months?
Chimera: A lot's been recruiting. With no summer camps we're trying to find creative ways to build our pipelines and our numbers to where they traditionally are at this point in the summer. And we've been trying to do a lot of professional development within our staff -- watching film and talking ball, kind of moved some guys around on the staff. Still been busy, mainly recruiting. That has been the main focus for the past couple weeks.

FootballScoop: Have you been assured that this won't turn into a permanent cut for the program?
Chimera: As far as I know, we haven't gotten any notifications of furloughs or anything like that. I'm fortunate to work at a place that's pretty well off financially, for the most part. They've asked us to do some other duties around campus a little bit. I think everyone's going to do their part to hopefully not have to face any layoffs for anybody in the department, but as of right now, no indication that anybody will be in the near future.

FootballScoop: What are some of those other duties?
Chimera: Some people have been asked to be contact tracers around campus. It hasn't affected the football staff at all yet. We implemented a new program because of covid to reach out to students on campus who are not student-athletes. Everybody got a list, maybe 30-40 students, to make sure they feel comfortable and let them know the ins and outs of what the fall will look like. I think it's a pretty cool for non-student-athletes to hear from coaches and administrators in the athletics department. Worst case, you get a couple extra fans for the fall -- or the spring, whenever we play.

FootballScoop: Do you think playing in the spring and fall of 2021 would be too much for players' bodies?
Chimera: I personally don't for our level. I'm not sure what it would be like for Alabama to do something like that. I think we'll be fine. If we end in May, take June and July off and maybe we'll look at a limited preseason camp the following year. I don't think, injury-wise or guys bodies not being right, I don't think any of that will be a factor.