The Arizona Wildcats are scheduled to begin preseason practice on Friday. It’s most likely that head coach Kevin Sumlin won’t be there, at least not in person, after testing positive for the coronavirus.
“We’ll see where we are at the end of the week from a timeline standpoint,” Sumlin said Wednesday on a webinar that served as a de facto Pac-12 football Media Day. “We’re about a week into this thing.”
Sumlin, whose positive test was announced on Monday, said he found out over the weekend but that the test itself came sometime last week. He said he’s asymptomatic, as is his son, Joey, whose positive test is likely to have contributed to his Salpointe Catholic football team having to cancel its next two games.
“I’m doing all right,” Sumlin said. “I don’t have symptoms, neither does my son. I get up in the morning and go through a checklist with him, how he felt, how he feels. He’s in my office next door here doing his schoolwork and I’m in the bedroom. It’s a tough time but we’re getting through it.”
Sumlin said he will consult with Dr. Stephen Paul, who has spearheaded Arizona’s COVID-19 student-athlete re-entry plan, about when he might be able to return to the team.
In the meantime, the work continues remotely.
Sumlin said he was set to have a Zoom meeting Wednesday afternoon with offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads and special teams coordinator Jeremy Springer to “script what preseason football looks like, what those practices look like.” He said the plan is for the team to slowly move back into the locker room inside the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility over the weekend and on Monday.
“As far as team meetings and things like that, as we ramp up testing, we’re going to stay on Zoom meetings, which gives me the opportunity to be a part of those meetings, for at least another week,” Sumlin said. “I would anticipate that this weekend, after talking with Dr. Paul, we’ll see where I am. As far as the meetings go, I’m still involved in that.”
Uncertain of when or where he may have contracted the virus, Sumlin said his situation only further drives home how serious the pandemic is.
“No matter what precautions that you have, you have to be extremely aggressive about your protection, about your health, as well as others,” Sumlin said. “It’s an unfortunate situation but it’s one that—hey listen, I’m not the only one this has happened to, even though I’ve been really vigilant about what’s been happening. I’ve been fortunate over the last week about (not having) symptoms, about being asymptomatic, and so is my son. If there’s anything that’s good out of it it’s become that. You cannot be too careful, you just can’t.”
Sumlin should be back with the team long before its begins the abbreviated 2020 season on Nov. 7 at Utah, but that won’t be the end to worrying about virus-related interruptions.
“It’s always a concern,” he said. “There’s a real possibility something like that could happen at any time. What you can do is do the best you can and prepare. I think our league, with our testing protocols and everything else and playing a conference schedule and controlling what that looks like, gives us a chance to play all of these games.”