CARBONDALE — Still awaiting the Missouri Valley Football Conference spring schedule, SIU's football team is embracing the present.
Saluki coach Nick Hill doesn't see any other way for his squad to be productive this fall if it can't concentrate on the here and now. SIU will have gone 13 months without a football game when January rings in 2021.
"I know, if it was me, and I was a young player, I mean, this is a positive thing," Hill said during a virtual press conference with local media Tuesday. "You get extra time to be at your best, so, these kids are resilient, and they get more time to be a better version of themselves. Not just on the football field, but in every aspect. Life after football, making connections, and then training, and that's our job. We'll figure out what we get an opportunity to do."
Hill said he was unsure when he might get the MVFC's spring schedule. Wednesday, the NCAA Division I Council gave the Salukis some clarity as to what they will be able to do this fall. The council announced all Division I football teams not playing this fall would have up to 12 hours a week for organized team activities from Monday, Aug. 24, through Oct. 4. Teams usually get up to eight hours a week during the offseason, but, with some teams playing and some not, the council amended the rules a bit.
Teams can work out with their strength and conditioning staff, hold meetings and go through film reviews, but only five of the 12 hours can be skill instruction. No contact will be allowed, and there will be a four-hour daily limit on athletic activities. Players must get two days off a week.
The new rules, which came to the council from the football oversight committee, will begin Aug. 24 as what the association called emergency legislation for the FBS and FCS. The committee intends to inform teams what they will be able to do after Oct. 4 at a later date, according to a news release from the NCAA.
Two FCS leagues have announced their tentative spring schedules. The SWAC, which doesn't participate in the FCS playoffs, announced a six-game league schedule with the possibility of one non-conference contest that would start Feb. 27 and run through April 17. The MEAC, which does participate in the playoffs, had a similar model that would run from Feb. 27 through April 24. It is not clear when the FCS season may start next spring, or if the playoffs will feature less than the normal 24 teams (12 conference champs and 12 at-large bids typically).
The SWAC, which has 10 teams divided in two divisions, has every team playing four teams in its division plus two games against teams from the other division. There is a bye week the week of March 13, to encourage fans to go to the SWAC men's and women's basketball tournament March 9-13. Teams would begin an eight-week training period for the season in January. The MEAC, which has nine teams, would also split into divisions for the first time next spring, according to its tentative schedule. Teams would play six games against league teams, four against teams from their division and two against teams in the other division, with the conference championship game scheduled for May 1.
For the Salukis, January, February and March are a long way away.
"We haven't put on helmets and pads, but we've still been able to still go out there, and we've gotten better," Hill said. "(Quarterback) Karé (Lyles) has gotten better. Our quarterbacks have gotten better. Some of the attention-to-detail things that we need to get better at, so, as a coach, I'm looking forward to this fall. Slowing down, teaching, coaching, and that's what we'll do. And then in the fall, when they tell us it's training camp time, we'll do that, so I'm not really worried about the 16 months off, or whatever it will be."
On Twitter: @THefferman