One of the hot topics this spring was Nebraska coach Scott Frost’s desire for morning practices. At Central Florida, Frost would have his team practice hard during the season on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. By the time players walked off the field at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, "the hay is in the barn and the work is done."
He also saw plenty of advantages of practicing in the morning.
"That really helps us recover, prepare, and then re-energize the guys so that we're fresh and ready for football games,” Frost said.
One program that Frost shares an affinity for morning practices with is the Iowa Hawkeyes. Head coach Kirk Ferentz was asked about his program practicing in the morning during Big Ten Media Days in Chicago last week, They started morning preactices in 2015 and haven’t looked back.
"After we went through that first year we wondered why we didn’t it a long time ago," Ferentz said. "There were a lot of it is academic conflicts. With public universities, budget changes, night classes and things like that they create class conflicts which are a real problem. Our players love it though and the coaches love it. It’s all been good for us."
The staffs at Iowa and Nebraska have a mutual respect for one another. There are a lot of ties between the programs, most notably that Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander is from the state of Iowa and played college football for the Hawkeyes.
Because of that connection, current Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz took a trip out to Oregon to pick Chinander’s brain about the benefits of morning practices when Iowa made the change in 2015.
Kirk Ferentz also said at Big Ten Media Days that his staff discussed the move to morning practices quite a bit before they actually decided to go forward with it. Once they made the shift, they found a lot of added benefits to getting the work done early.
“One of the biggest benefits I’ve found is that we talk about flipping the page after Sunday. It’s our 24-hour rule," Ferentz said. "When you practice Monday morning, you have to get moving. It took all the guess work out. One other thing is by Tuesday morning, we’ve had two practices. In the old days, we’d go to our first team meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Now we’ve already got two practices in the bag. We can get information to our players quicker. We feel it fits us.”
Ferentz says that the Hawkeyes on are on the field somewhere between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on practice days. He was against starting too early, though. There's a reason for that.
“I go back to when I coached at Maine 100 years ago," Ferentz said. "New Hampshire used to go out in the morning and I think they were on the field at 5:30. People live in the woods up there in New England. They are big on that stuff. When I lived in Maine, everyone was up at 5 a.m. and in bed at 8 p.m. I said we aren’t doing that stuff. We aren’t in that realm but we are up and moving early enough.”
Nebraska begins fall camp on Friday, August 3. Practice is expected to start around 8:45 a.m.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.