With games moved to spring, MSSU football turns focus to weight room, classroom

The Lions plan to play four games in the spring.

JOPLIN, Mo. – While a few MIAA schools have scheduled games for the fall, Missouri Southern will have to wait until spring to see the field due to COVID-19.

“Would we like to play? Of course,” says MSSU Director of Athletics Jared Bruggeman, “That’s what we’ve habitually been trained to do, is play in the fall.”

“I would love to play football right now. I would love it. That’s what I do,” says Missouri Southern head coach Jeff Sims, “But if Donald Trump can get COVID, if Nick Saban can get COVID, if the Florida Gators can’t practice, how can we rightfully protect a Division II football team? And if we could, how could we justify the costs of that, when we know there are cuts across the board?”

The Lions plan to play four games in the spring, using those games as a chance to evaluate what they have ahead of the fall 2021 season.

“The ultimate goal is to win in the fall of 2021,” Sims adds, “So I have to see as many players play and give them as many opportunities as I can to show that they can succeed or fail at this level.”

In the meantime, the Lions are spending the fall trying to get stronger.

“We’re in the weight room every single day,” says sophomore linebacker Colton Winder, “It is an amazing opportunity to get better and achieve our goals.”

“We have a chance to get bigger and stronger,” Sims says, “For us, this fall, I believe that’s the best option for us.”

They’re also using the time to care of business in the classroom.

“With my degree I have night classes. I can’t take those in the fall normally,” Winder adds, “So I get to catch up with those night classes now. I’m sure other guys are in the same situation, getting to catch up with night classes and take more credits.”

Coach Sims says although their plan is different than some other schools, he wants to make one thing clear.

“I am competitive. When people act like they want to play more than me, they’re wrong,” Sims finishes, “We’re trying to do what’s right, because it’s right. When you start saying that you care about football more than we do, you’re wrong and we look forward to playing you.”