Coach Ken Karcher reacts to delayed football season
MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - When the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) voted to move football to the spring, it seemed like JUCO football in Mississippi was going to be put on hold. That all changed last week when the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges (MACC) voted to have a delayed football season that would begin in Oct.
While East Central football coach Ken Karcher had ‘no idea’ the MACC was going to vote to have football in the fall, he said he’s been planning for any scenario during this time.
“As a football coach I think you’re preparing all the time. My job is to have a team ready to play this fall, next spring or whenever it’s determined to have a schedule,” Karcher said. “We’ve been preparing since the spring to play this fall though, so we’re excited that we’ll have that opportunity.”
When teams across the state can begin preparing for the delayed season has yet to be determined. The MACC has not informed coaches about any sort of timeline of return, but Karcher believes the association is doing all it can to come up with a plan of action that emphasizes player safety.
“Our main concern is obviously insuring the health and safety of our athletes and students, so I’m sure there’s a lot of thought going into that,” Karcher said. “We’re just planning the best we can with what we know and making sure that we’re prepared so when they (the players) do come back, we’ll be able to give them a great opportunity to play and have a safe environment.”
A big concern among many coaches across the state regarding the NJCAA’s decision to move football to the spring was roster sizes. Many players graduate in the winter, opting to move on to 4-year programs. As a result, teams would have significantly less players to work with if they were forced to play in the spring.
MACC schools won’t have to worry about small rosters but there are some changes that come with choosing to not play in the spring. Since the MACC is going against the NJCAA’s decision to play in the spring, teams become ineligible to try and compete for a national championship. Mississippi junior colleges have won seven of the last 10 national championships.
While winning championships may be important to some programs, Karcher emphasized that getting to play in the fall will benefit his players getting recruited to compete for major universities. Even though the season has been shortened from nine to six games, the head coach recognizes playing some games is better than none.
“My biggest concern was to make sure our players have a chance to get recruited, so playing six or seven games I think gives them that opportunity,” Karcher explained. “As a coach you really don’t think about who you’re playing. What’s different is that when you start out they count. Usually you have non-conference games that you want to win but if you lose them, it doesn’t hurt your opportunity. These six count so that will be the biggest change.”
With the MACC’s decision, teams will only compete against others in their division. Week 1 of the season is slated to begin Oct. 1.
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