Lincoln Riley is making contingency plans. He just doesn’t know what those will be yet.
How could he?
“It’s like the worst possible scenario,” Riley said, “is way worse now.”
Like every college football team, Oklahoma is trying to keep its players COVID-free. It’s impossible, of course, but the OU medical staff is doing everything in its power to mitigate the players’ exposure.
But social interactions happen. People forget to wash their hands. Germs get spread.
The unprecedented nature of this whole Coronavirus thing means OU players will test positive for COVID-19, and it’s Riley’s job, and his staff, to have multiple contingencies ready to implement.
There are now only 14 days until OU kicks off Sept. 12 against Missouri State.
“I think the other part of that,” he said, “is your thought process on how far that could go.”
If one player tests positive, his backup should be ready to step in. But just last week, Riley said the Sooners were prepping for a scrimmage the next day and issued COVID tests, and an entire position group, save one player, required quarantine.
“I mean, a major position group on the field and we have to practice that day with a position where we have multiple players on the field at one time, and we have one player,” he said. “And we found out that night, and then we’ve got practice the next morning. So I mean, we’re getting some kind of on the job training it with.”
One reason the Peach Bowl got sideways so quickly is the Sooners lost starting safety Delarrin Turner-Yell with a broken collarbone. But that was one player, and it happened eight days before the game.
“I’ll compare,” Riley said. “Like, in the past, what happens if like two safeties get hurt during the week, or two safeties get hurt during the game? Now it’s, ’What happens if I don’t have a safety even available to play — period?’
“For us, it’s been a call to every player on our roster, that you’ve got to be willing to do whatever’s called. And certainly it’s on us to have a plan. I don’t know that you can plan for all the scenarios, because it can go so deep right now, but i think you have a plan to cover as much of it as you can, and we’ve certainly been working through that.
“I think you’ve just had to think a little bit deeper. … I think it’s something every coach in the country is thinking about right now.”
To get the latest OU posts as they happen, join the SI Sooners Community by clicking “Follow” at the top right corner of the page (mobile users can click the notifications bell icon), and follow SI Sooners on Twitter @All_Sooners.