West Virginia University’s planned football season opener against Florida State in Atlanta, Georgia, is still on the books. Yet if the COVID-19 pandemic changes that, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff has some backup plans.
Peach Bowl Inc. President and CEO Gary Stokan, whose group is putting on the three-game kickoff event, recently told the Tallahassee Democrat that all is not lost if the pandemic forces more conferences to reduce their schedules.
“In our business, you have contingencies that have contingencies and so we’re modeling a lot of different scenarios,” Stokan told the newspaper.
There are three Chick-fil-A Kickoff games scheduled for Sept. 5, Sept. 7 and Sept. 12. The Mountaineers and Seminoles are scheduled for Sept. 5, Virginia and Georgia are scheduled for Sept. 7 and Auburn and North Carolina are scheduled for Sept. 12. If the SEC and ACC reduce their schedules to a conference slate plus one non-conference game, Florida State would make its lone non-conference game against rival Florida and Georgia would make its against Georgia Tech.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 already have announced a move to conference-only football schedules for 2020.
Stokan said that if schedules get reduced, West Virginia and Virginia would play one game, while UNC likely would still play Auburn.
Stokan also told the Democrat that his group also is preparing for different seating capacities at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, depending on how many fans will be allowed in the stadium given the health guidelines at that time.
“We’ll be prepared for whatever appropriate scenario provides the most safety for the team, the staff and the fans and the media,” he said. “Whoever steps into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, our first priority will be safety.”
WVU basketball assistant Larry Harrison is considered by his peers as one of the best in the Big 12. Stadium reporter Jeff Goodman recently ranked Harrison in a tie for fifth with Iowa State’s Daniyal Robinson among the conference’s assistants. Goodman is polling at least 20 coaches, mostly assistants, in each conference.
Harrison and Robinson sit behind Baylor’s Jerome Tang, Texas Tech’s Mark Adams, Oklahoma’s Carlin Hartmant and Kansas’ Norm Roberts in the poll. Harrison has twice been an assistant under WVU coach Bob Huggins, from 1989-97 at Cincinnati at WVU since 2007. He also served as an assistant at American and DePaul and was head coach at Hartford from 2000-06.
WVU’s basketball team, as well as three of its players, was recently honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches for its work in the classroom. Not only did the NABC give the Mountaineers a Team Academic Excellence Award for having a cumulative grade-point average above a 3.0, but Emmitt Matthews, Jordan McCabe and Derek Culver also were named to the NABC Honors Court. That rewards college basketball players who are at least juniors or seniors and carry a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher.