COVID-19 affects Lovie Smith’s football and extended family

Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Coronavirus pandemic has affected almost everybody in one way or another. For Illinois’ Head Football Coach Lovie Smith, the disease is affecting both his football and extended family.

The Illini head coach is taking the same approach as the rest of the country, bunkering down at home. However, two of his family members are in the middle of the battle.

“My sister-in-law is a doctor in Louisiana,” Smith explained. “My daughter-in-law, Kara of course, works at Carle in Champaign. [You] talk about some MVPs, those are two definite MVPs we have right in the immediate Smith family here.”

The Illinois coaches are allowed eight hours of contact per week with their team. They can’t coach them in person, but Smith can still hold them accountable via video chat.

“If we were in the building what would we be doing? I think you can do everything that way and if you don’t trust someone, you can make them weigh themselves in front of you,” Smith said. “Whatever you want them to do, you can have them do it remotely to be able to see it.”

Coming off their first bowl since 2014, spring ball was going to be crucial in keeping that momentum. Smith says losing those practices doesn’t bother him that much. He even thinks it might help a program like Illinois.

“What we’re finding having to meet remotely and the technology that’s available nowadays, I think you can even gain ground,” Smith said.

As for when he thinks they might be on the field again, Smith is keeping a glass half-full mentality, while also keeping things in perspective.

“In an ideal world, our guys are back this summer and we can start our summer workouts but if that doesn’t happen, whenever we can get them in is fine,” Smith said. “In an ideal world, we’d like to go through a normal training camp but if that doesn’t happen, we’ll adjust and once they say ‘turn the lights on’, I think everybody has to be ready to turn the lights on.”

Smith finished the call by saying that to his knowledge no one in the program has had a scare of COVID-19.

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