Starting any new job can be stressful, but starting it under a COVID-19 outbreak? A whirlwind.
That’s exactly how Howard University’s new head football coach, Larry Scott, describes it.
“You take the job beginning of February and ask yourself, what all has to be done?” Scott said. “And you go, ‘Everything.’”
And yet you can’t do anything outside of your home.
Scott is challenged with trying to change the culture of a team that finished the 2019 season 2-10, seventh in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He’s had to evaluate his roster, hire a new coaching staff, and hopefully bring in the right recruits. Seems impossible, but Scott sees it completely the opposite.
“It’s all about people, it’s all about building a strong connection within a team,” Scott said. “Thank god I had some really good strong relationships with some coaches that I have worked with and admired from afar."
Scott coached under Dan Mullen at the University of Florida and Butch Jones at the University of Tennessee, learning leadership skills he has relied upon while installing his own system at Howard -- especially during this trying time.
“It actually plays well into the whole concept -- football is still about people and how you make them feel,” Scott said. “Trust factors are built though connections.”
Howard’s football team holds position meetings two times a week, staff meetings once a week, and uses Zoom to communicate with players daily. Scott held his first full team meeting on Monday using Microsoft Teams while his strength and conditioning coach sends out daily workouts via Twitter challenging players to find creative ways to stay in football shape.
Full-body workouts can be better than weights. Packing a book bag or finding water bottles can substitute creativity when the normal tools are not available. It’s about taking ownership of your body, when no one is telling you what time to be in the gym or standing over you counting reps.
But all that is expected for a football team. Scott is also holding meetings that involve the full academic staff.
“We have a plan for how we’re attacking academics and our online classes,” Scott said.
A big part of that are talks on shifting the grade system to pass-fail concepts and where to accept letter grades. Scott wants his players to keep their scholarships and stay eligible. If they don’t keep their studies up, all the training in the world won’t matter. There is no football. Not even when football returns.
For Scott, the cool thing about communicating all this to young men, is just that. They’re young. The virtual world is more their reality than any previous generation. They order all their food through Uber Eats. They have endless apps on their phones. They can adapt because technology lets them. And in so doing they help their coach adapt, too, during tough times. Together, when they finally return to the field, Scott believes they’ll all have a deeper appreciation for college football.
“It’s kind of fun entering into their world into how they see things and view things and being able to still reach them and relate to them and teach them on a level that is expanding our mind,” Scott said. “It’s still about seeing young people find ways to have success, create avenues of opportunity.”
Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.
MORE NCAA NEWS: