As Jill would say, these are not direct quotes. I tried to type this as the questions were asked and as they were answered. They in no way are the complete answers and questions. Though I did my best to get down the important parts.
Opening Statement from Coach Frost
- Scott Frost from the beginning said we need to take the financial part out of the decision. What matters is the health and safety of his kids.
- I want to stop and talk about what their lives look like if we cancel football tomorrow.
- Do we keep them here? Do we send them home? The virus is going to be here whether we play football or not. The kids will have opportunity to catch the virus whether we play football or not.
- The vast majority of the kids who contracted the virus actually contracted it outside of the building. I am 100% certain that the safest place for them here. They are safer as they are monitored and screened constantly.
- They have better access to medical here. Are they going to have access to medical care if they get the virus if they are home? I truly believe that in regards to testing that they are safer here.
- Regarding nutrition. They won’t get better nutrition. There are immune boosting support when eating the right foods.
- Without the structure here, I am worried about the kids in relation to drugs. I am worried about kids in relation to alcohol.
- We want to fight for our players in any way that we can.
- Regarding the #BigTenUnited, there was no direction from the coaches or administrators for the players on what they should do. It was player generated.
- If we send kids home they will be in closer contact with friend or family who are higher risk...If I had a son I would want him playing football. This is the safest place where he could be. He would be in an environment where he is being monitored constantly. I’m passionate about this because our guys want to play.
- It is our responsibility to make sure that our kids respect this virus. I am not a doctor...sometimes I don’t think our kids are scared enough of this virus. That is our job as leaders to make sure we keep the kids as safe as possible when they are not taking this seriously enough.
- It is the players right to say that they don’t feel safe to play. We haven’t had anybody say that yet.
Q&A Session with Coach Scott Frost
If they would entertain playing football if the B1G says there won’t be football?
Certainly want to play football. We want to play a B1G schedule. I hope that’s what happens. Our University is committed to playing no matter what and no matter what that looks like. If it isn’t in the B1G then we will look into that.
Who should ultimately make the decision to make the call of whether the B1G plays this fall?
I think the University presidents make the decision at the end of the day. It’s their decision. I know where our University President stands. He wants to play football.
What changed from last Wednesday to today in the B1G viewpoint? Would the B1G allow you to pursue other options?
I don’t know the answer to either of those questions. Just seems like we are looking for every reason not to play. I don’t know what has changed.
Do the B1G coaches want to play?
On the calls I’ve been every B1G coach wants to play but everybody is in a little bit different situation. People need to understand the carnage and aftermath if college athletics are cancelled. It’s a huge decision and I am proud of the position of the University of Nebraska.
Have you had any players who have expressed reservations going forward? What about the leadership?
Leadership has been great. The biggest concern is what happens to their eligibility if we play a broken season. We are waiting to hear about eligibility decisions from the NCAA. Other than that, our team wants to play. We’ve had one or two guys who have brought up some of the cardiac issues. We are working with our staff to have EKGs and MRI’s available to do our best to keep our kids safe.
What are your thoughts on spring football?
We are committed to play in the fall. We will continue to explore our options for the fall. Regarding the spring, the factors that make people want to push things to the spring won’t still be there in the spring.
Have you had any discussions about looking outside of the B1G? What are your options? If there isn’t football this fall is there anything you can do football-wise?
We are a proud member of the B1G and we want to play a B1G schedule. If they shut down then we will continue to look at other options. It makes no sense to continue to working the kids out and putting strain on their bodies if there is no football. If it is too dangerous to play football then it’s too dangerous to workout.
How quickly would you be able to play football?
If you polled our team I think we could do it in a week. The concern however is that we haven’t been able to make contact. That’s the biggest concern.
How has the energy been?
That was my biggest worry. I told the team that I guarantee them that we have people pulling for them at this University. We had one of the most passionate and energetic teams practices I’ve been a part of.
What are some of the financial concerns?
$80-120 million hit to the athletic department. I don’t know how many sports are going to be able to exist if we lose out on all that money. The conferences start to disintegrate, I don’t know if that landscape will stay the same. If we don’t play football we won’t be able to pay for anything.
From what you know, at the President’s level, does Nebraska feel like they are in the minority?
I don’t know that for sure. I’m not on those calls. All I can say is how proud I am that I am here at Nebraska.
What have the conversations been like with other coaches of sports at Nebraska?
I want what is best for those programs just like they want what is best for us. Mark Manning has been in my office. Talked to Will Bolt on the phone. 85% of our revenue comes from football. If you take 85% away then realistically it would be hard to field a lot of those sports. I want what’s best for all of those sports including ours?
Regarding the B1G notice of an acclimatization period (no pads just jersey and helmet). Were you surprised?
We were in period 8 of a practice when somebody came out and showed me. Our kids are ready to start hitting. It’s going to be difficult to keep practicing without getting the pads on and start hitting.
All I’ve heard is that we are in the acclimatization period indefinitely until I hear otherwise. Hopefully just a few days.
Some professional leagues have played in a bubble. Would there be disappointment or frustration if you don’t get at least a chance to play?
I don’t want to talk on medical stuff becasue I’m not a doctor. What I do know is that if we dont’ play football then it is impossible for us to protect those kids from the coronavirus. We can give them motivation to stay away from bad situtation. If oru goal is to keep every student athlete from gettin gth evirus then we are going to fail whether we play football or not. Whether we play football will not be the mitigating factor of whether a player gets the virus.
You mentioned that not every school has the same situation as Nebraska. What are some things that other schools in B1G that they are dealing with that is different?
I don’t want to be political. That’s not my job. I just know that there are tons of people involved in these decisions. To make a commitment to play you have to have everybody aligned and everybody I have talked to believes the same thing I do. The best thing for the state, community and health and well-being of our student athletes is to play football.
Q&A with Adrian Martinez, DiCaprio Bootle and Matt Farniok. Coach Frost made it extremely clear that he has in no way directed the players what to say or control their opinions before these players started answering questions.
What are your feelings are on the landscape of the sport this moment? What would you like to say to B1G Presidents?
Bootle: Our coaches have done a good job taking care of us. Regarding playing football this fall that is something we feel extremely strong at this point.
Martinez: Not to sound repetitive. I’m thankful I’m here. I’m thankful to be at Nebraska. It’s almost a consensus among the players that we want to play football. I know for a fact that Nebraska has been taking care of us here.
Farniok: Plain and simple. From a health standpoint we have immediate access to medical services. If we weren’t here I know we wouldn’t have access to the same quality of medical care. I feel 100% comfortable.
As different aspects of the virus and complications and we learn more about it, do any of those things give you pause at all?
Martinez: That is valid. Most definitely. We aren’t doctors. We aren’t 100% certain about what COVID entails. What I can say is that Coach Frost told us as a team that if we are concerned that they would take care of us to get tested. If there are safety issues. He isn’t forcing us to play.
Regarding the swings of emotion from the release of the schedule last Wednesday to the reports you heard today?
Farniok: Lots of excitement and confusion. Looked like we were heading toward to play and now things look different. We can’t control it. We can only say how we feel. We want to play. We want to do this. We know they are making it as safe as we can at this point. It’s a personal thing, if you feel unsafe then sit out and nobody is going to think less of you. We want to showcase what we have been working for.
Bootle: Lot of emotions. I kind of think of it kind of like a roller coaster ride. We have been briefing on what to do and what not to do. When we had practice then we heard that the B1G was thinking of cancelling the season but that didn’t stop us. Wew want to come in here everyday to give everything we got for as long as we can.
Frost mentioned that today was a particularly good practice, why was it such a good practice?
Martinez: We brought the energy. Guys are still optimistic and we want to play football. We are remaining optimistic. We enjoy being around each other and playing football. Times like these has shown who really loves to play football and who doesn’t.
What do you hear from the community?
Martinez: Regarding Nebraska it’s almost 100% who want to play. When it comes to other schools it is almost 100%. Our country needs college football.
Taking us to the practice field, are you concerned about the virus when you are practicing?
Bootle: When I’m on the practice field I don’t think about it. Football is an escape from the realities of the world. When you cross over the white lines into the football field then nothing else matters. That’s where a lot of people get their joy from. People may have had families impacted by the virus, but for me when I cross those lines then that is my escape from everything.
Farniok: I’m with Di-Cap. When I’m playing football that’s all I’m thinking about. At some point we will have to start hitting each other. Every day we are getting tested and screen and taking every step they need to do to make sure we are being healthy. The virus isn’t going to disappear but they are doing everything in their power to keep us healthy.
One of the main concerns is that you guys are going to be with the general population in class. What are your levels of concerns about be a part of the student population?
Martinez: That’s a tricky question that I’m not sure we have an answer to yet. I think experts and University presidents knew what to expect that we would have been answers. I think schools that choose to have football then there may be sacrifices that may be make. We may have to explore the options of taking classes online.
You were high level recruits a tone point. What are your thoughts about what it woudl be like for high schoolers who are losing their opportunities to play football?
Bootle: I wasn’t highly recruited and I was one of those that needed their senior season for a coach to see them. I don’t knwo fi they are going to get the opportunity that they’ve always dreamed of. Just work out as much as you can and get better. Believe in yourself. It is a real concern though.
Did you guys happen to see the letter by other Nebraska athletes regrading concerns about racial equality.
Bootle: Yes I saw it as something they bleieve in and it is a challenege to the University. Some of my friends are in that group and I support them. It is very real that they want something like that.
Trevor Lawrence called for an official channel to represent college athletes to formalized representation. Do you think college athletes need that or is what you have now sufficient?
Martinez: I think twitter has allowed athletes to reach a more national level. I think it is important that the players wants and needs are addressed and are heard. That is a very valid thing. However that ends up coming to be, I’m not sure how, I hope it is addressed in some formal way moving forward.
How would you guys feel like playing teams outside of the B1G?
Bootle: I was telling my teammates that we are ready to play the AFC North. We just want to play and will play whoever.
Farniok: We would love to play in the B1G, but if they cancel then we are 100% open to play whoever wants to play. The B1G is our home and is our conference. We just want to play football and represent Nebraska.
How difficult would it be to play in the spring and have two seasons in the same calendar year?
Martinez: That would be extremely difficult. It would be hard on the body. I don’t necessarily know that’s best for us athletes. Just my personal opinion.
Bootle: That’s something you think of when that is actually happening. I am just focued on playing in the fall. Just worried about the now.
Farniok: Our main focus is playing in the fall. If that falls through and we play in the spring then we will deal with that then.