Spring football is taking on a whole new meaning in the Inland Northwest this fall.
Coronavirus pushed back the Big Sky's football season start date to the spring.
"It's inexplainable. It feels like August in January," said Eastern Washington head coach Aaron Best of camp finally beginning for the Eags after a fourteen month layoff.
Getting out on the field in January may have felt a bit foreign to Eastern and Idaho’s football teams, but it was a welcome sight, especially when a few weeks ago there was a question of if a Big Sky season would even happen. Multiple opt outs whittled the league down to eight teams for spring play.
"Yeah, it was a little concerning. We just hoped that enough would stay in, so we got to play. Kind of like we always tell them, control what we can control and don't worry about things we can't control," said Idaho head coach Paul Petrino.
"We knew we were opting in. We didn't waver. The teams have changed, the dates haven't, and the games haven’t, but the teams we're playing have. We're just fortunate for the opportunity. We'll make the most of it," said Best.
Making the most of it this year means the rivals are playing each other twice due to those other teams opting out.
"They're one of the best teams, and we get to play them twice. I think you do whatever the league tells you, and you're excited about it and happy about it. I don't think our guys really cared who it was we were going play and when we're going to play. We’re just excited to play a schedule and we’re looking forward to it," said Petrino.
"That's awesome. I mean, we’ll play them six times. We’ll pay anybody six times. The opportunity, number one. That's what it comes down to. We've talked about that from the get-go. From a school level, from a conference level, is let's create the opportunity to play, number one," said Best.
Well, it was day one of that opportunity becoming a reality.
"Getting out there today with 105 guys, 11 coaches, and just having the time of their lives. I'm not worried about execution at this point. Let's just all be happy with the participation at this point," said Best.