Ryan Mahon is counting his blessings.
For now, Blinn College’s fourth-year head football coach and the Buccaneer football program are dealing with limited repercussions as the NJCAA has cancelled all junior college athletic programs due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mahon and his coaching staff have benefited from a sport – and in turn a scouting and recruiting process – that takes place during the fall. Unlike baseball, softball and basketball, much of Mahon’s team for the 2020 campaign is already in place.
The only problem is, Mahon doesn’t know much about next season’s squad, and vice versa, and that is a direct result of coronavirus.
“We were done with recruiting, so that’s a good thing,” Mahon told The Banner-Press on Monday. “So in that regard, we were really blessed.
“But that doesn’t mean we got out scot-free.”
That’s because the outbreak has forced Mahon to cancel the program’s annual spring game, which gives returning sophomores, and mid-year transfers their first chance to prepare for next season. That preparation includes growing familiar with teammates and the coaching staff, as well as Mahon’s biggest concern: learning the playbooks.
“So many guys who came in mid-year — the transfers — we’re losing ample time to see how they fit, not only with their teammates but also in our offensive and defensive schemes,” Mahon said. “You’d like to see how that translates to the football field, we just don’t have that opportunity yet.
“It’s the evaluation process that takes a hit, and that’s valuable time you can’t get back.”
Losing team time is something Mahon and the Buccaneers aren’t taking lightly after a disappointing 2019 season. Blinn labored its way to a 4-5 overall record last fall, which included a 2-5 finish in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference.
“Just being away from your guys is tough,” Mahon added. “It’s your life; you spend so much time with your assistant coaches and your players. When you can’t be around those guys anymore, it’s not fun.”
For now, however, Mahon, who also holds a teaching position with the college, said the focus is on educating his athletes and Blinn’s student body, as the college has moved to an online-only format.
“The kids can’t be on the field — we know that and that’s how it has to be — so now it’s all about ‘Let’s make sure they’re getting their classes taken care of,” he said. “It’s really all academic at this juncture.”
Editor’s note: The Banner-Press contacted Blinn College and requested interviews with other sources for this report, but the college said it was limiting its comments due to COVID-19. Blinn said all questions regarding its coaches and athletes should be directed to the National Junior College Athletics Association.