This is the first fall semester without football on Villanova’s campus since 1985. It has been a tough adjustment for not only the fans and the community, but also the team itself.
As of right now, the Villanova football team is working with the same restrictions and rules as the rest of the school. As such, it’s taking its return to working out pretty slowly. The first week of school primarily consisted of medical clearances and tests to ensure their players were in good shape and healthy.
“Some of them came back in really good shape,” head coach Mark Ferrante said. “A lot of them did a good job in the five or so months away from campus.”
For their second week of workouts, players began with only one field workout and one weight room workout, in small teams with their positional groups and coaches. By now, they have revved that up to two and two for the workouts, staying in the small groups they’ve been working with.
Coaches have also continued to check in with players constantly, making communication a big focus. Because they’re not seeing the players as much as they usually would, they’re sure to check in academically, as well as that they are staying healthy.
Although the restrictions have made workouts a bit harder to navigate, the team has done its best to stay productive. Ultimately, the Wildcats hope this fall can be a time when the players can grow and get better for next year and hopefully, still retain the year of eligibility that they would have used this fall.
However, the biggest adjustment the team has had to undergo has been the lack of football itself. For most, they’ve been playing football for the majority of their lives, so having a fall without it feels entirely different.
“Not having football in the fall is weird for me,” Ferrante said. “This is my 33rd year at Villanova. This is probably the first time in nearly 40 years where weekends are open for me in September.”
Ferrante said that the general morale of the team is pretty high. Although players all have some tougher days of missing football, they try to keep each other motivated and working hard, especially as they see other conferences and teams at the FBS and FCS levels getting to play. The Wildcats are trying to keep each other at their best.
However, one possibility looming in the back of all their minds is the possibility of a spring season. Many conferences, coaches and officials have floated the idea of playing the FCS season in the spring. Although Ferrante did not give any official endorsement of any certain plan, he did say he thinks all options should be on the table.
“It would be interesting, I don’t know how it could work,” Ferrante said. “I think our guys would be open to any opportunity they could have to get to play, even in the spring. A spring season and another year of eligibility in the fall could not only help us have football but help a lot of our players get better and improve.”
The Big Ten and PAC-12 both announced they would be suspending their fall seasons. Outside the Power Five conferences, the MAC and the Mountain West Conference both stated they would postpone their seasons as well.
This means that the remaining conferences that will try to play this fall are the ACC, SEC, Big 12, AAC, Sun Belt, Conference USA and independents Liberty, Army and BYU. Notre Dame announced it would participate within the ACC for the 2020 season. Independents UConn, UMass and New Mexico State all announced they would not play, and Old Dominion opted out of the Conference USA plan to play.
Things continue to look different due to COVID-19, and the world of sports is nearly unrecognizable. Without football on not just the Villanova campus but across the country, Saturday mornings will not be the same.