Malzahn: Auburn Football “on back-burner” this week due to COVID-19

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — “We are dealing with unprecedented times right now.”

It’s a sentiment being heard by politicians and public leaders in the last few days. Now, it’s how Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn opened his teleconference with the media Wednesday afternoon.

Last Thursday, the Auburn coaching staff told players there was no need to return to campus and to “go home” from spring break amid the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Auburn University announced the transition to online instruction through April 10.

The Auburn football coaching staff met briefly Monday to lay out a plan to work remotely. On Tuesday, the SEC announced that all regular season conference and non-conference competitions are cancelled for remainder of the 2019-20 athletic year, including all spring football games and remaining SEC championship events. Auburn’s A-Day game was originally scheduled for April 11.

“This week, our number one goal is the safety and well-being of our players, coaches and our families,” Malzahn said. “We’ve been in constant contact with our players this week, making sure they’re safe and set up remotely to be able to start classes.”

Malzahn said that he and his wife, Kristi, are feeling fine and have not been tested for the coronavirus. He added that all Auburn football staff members and players are healthy.

“This week, it’s been all about the health and safety [of players], we’ve put the football on the back-burner,” he said.

With the SEC’s suspension of spring activities, Auburn plans to have virtual staff meetings Monday and Friday of each week to help organize remote player workouts.

“At the right time, we’ll be able to move forward with that, but right now with social distancing, weight rooms aren’t where you’re supposed to be. So each week, we will come up with plans that are appropriate at that appropriate time,” he said.

Amid the pandemic, the NCAA suspended all in-person recruiting, on-campus and off-campus through April 15. Malzahn said, like everyone in the country, coaches are having the adjust to the fluid situation.

“Each coach has their own laptop from home and can watch any video. There’s been great communication, our coordinators are doing a great job as far as not getting behind from working from home. Right now, we can communicate with recruits because most of them aren’t in school anyway,” he said.

The SEC originally suspended all spring team activity until March 30, but the league extended that timeline through at least April 15.


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