Interview: Tim Rebowe remains upbeat despite postponement of Nicholls football season
It has been quite a run for Nicholls football under Tim Rebowe.
The Colonels have made the FCS playoffs three straight seasons, an unprecedented feat.
Despite the loss of offensive and defensive stars and leaders Chase Fourcade and Sully Laiche to graduation, the 2020 season looked very bright for Nicholls, picked third in the preseason Southland Conference poll.
Then, the announcement came early Thursday that the Southland Conference was postponing the football season in the fall, holding out hope of perhaps playing in the spring.
Speaking on The Life Resources Bottom Line Sports Hour Thursday night on 106.1 FM, Rebowe said though it was a devastating blow, he is remaining upbeat despite the disappointment.
“We’re going to look to be positive and we’re going to move on from it,” Rebowe said.
Rebowe had a chance to tell his team before anything became public.
“We’ve already started school,” Rebowe said. “It’s kind of crazy. We’re a week earlier than everybody else. We had been practicing. We got word last night probably at about 6:30 and we happened to have a team walk-through last night at 7. We went ahead and told them. We wanted the guys to find out from us. We knew the release was going to come out this morning so we didn’t want them learning about it from social media.”
Despite the shock, the decision by the conference did not come as a surprise.
“Unless you’ve kind of been living under a rock the last couple of weeks, you saw the trend that was happening, probably now over 75-80 percent of the schools are not going to be playing ball. I thought the Southland did a great job of staying there, the coaches in the state.”
Still, the reality set in and it was harsh.
“We kept communicating with the hope that we could get it done,” Rebowe said. “We told the team last night. It was kind of somber. They were kind of in shock. They’ve been working so hard but they handled it in a good way so I’m kind of proud of that.”
Is playing in the spring a realistic possibility?
“I think it is and I think that it can be done,” Rebowe said. “Obviously, logistics is going to play a big part in this, especially the smaller schools, where you’re understaffed and undermanned. How can you pull off a weekend where you may have basketball, baseball, football and softball going on? I think it can be done if it’s done early enough.”
There are many questions that need to be answered if there is no season. How many will gain a redshirt year? How many seniors may get the opportunity at a sixth year of eligibility? What about the impact on the incoming recruiting class of 2021?
“They put out legislation every day,” Rebowe said. “They’re talking about if you play less than 50 percent of the games that you can possibly play, that you can redshirt. How can you go with a limited number of scholarships and budgets? How are you going to able to go sign another class? Those are questions we have to tackle to move forward.”
Rebowe feels strongly that his team has done everything right in the midst of the pandemic.
“In the summer when we returned, if we had anybody who had a symptom, it was stay away,” Rebowe said. “Our guys were good at that. We tested over 250 athletes last week and we had two positive cases which I think is pretty good. Both of them were asymptomatic and one of them had already had it in June so I don’t know if it was still in his system. Our guys have been doing the right thing. This is where it hurts a little bit more.”
Does the fact that Nicholls was expected to be good again this season make the decision not to play more difficult?
“I think it is,” Rebowe said. “Those guys had set their sights higher than last year. When you make a run like we did and into the second round and lost to the national champs, we wanted to prove that we could make a little run and go after it.”
Aside from losing conference games, losing a chance to play national champion LSU in Tiger Stadium as part of a big payday was another blow for the Colonels.
“We played some big money games before when we go to Georgia, we go to Texas A&M in the SEC and those were huge for us. There’s nothing like playing your state school. I think that’s what hurts a lot of these guys. You know what our roster is comprised of, over 90 percent of our roster is right here in Louisiana. They were going to get to go to Tiger Stadium and play. I think that’s what stings them.”
Rebowe is at peace with the decision handed down.
“I’m proud of the schools in our conference, in our state because we decided to stick together,” Rebowe said. “The risks far outweigh the rewards in this case. Even though this is a difficult pill to swallow, I know.”
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