Along with the raindrops the last couple of days that have fell on Saluki Stadium, there is also excitement in the air for SIU football head coach Nick Hill.
The Du Quoin native who is entering his fifth season at the helm of Saluki football, is coming off a seven-win season and Top-25 ranking in 2019.
The 34-year-old began fall camp in preparation for the upcoming season Friday and on Saturday met with members of the media via teleconference.
Among the many things Hill addressed was the decision made recently by the Illinois High School Association to move the football season from the fall to the spring.
Hill, who was a standout player for Du Quoin in the early 2000's, was the Player Of The Year in both football and basketball in 2002-03, guiding the Indians to the IHSA Class 3A state championship football team.
Ask Hill and he'll honestly tell you, his senior season is what he remembers most about playing sports.
"First of all, I have said this all along, I really feel for the high school senior, having to go through all of this and the senior athlete that lost out on their spring season," Hill said "I think, if we look back or talk about when was the most fun you had playing or competing and I know for me you think about your senior year of high school."
Hill noted the frustration with getting their world flipped upside down. After a stellar prep career, Hill signed scholarship papers to play basketball at Western Kentucky University. However, a broken hand ended his playing downs in Bowling Green and led him back home where he led the 'Dawgs to the Final Four of the playoffs in 2007.
The decision to flip seasons is one that Hill said likely didn't come with an easy answer.
"At this point, nothing surprises me, but I think a lot of people saw that coming," he said. "Some states are trying to play. Illinois is going to play in the spring, but I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. No matter what answer or decision is made, there are going to be people that agree and disagree. The teachers and coaches, I'm sure, will do a great job of investing in those kids and keeping them positive."
As far as what that means in terms of recruiting will come down to what Hill calls, adapting and changing, but is adamant about keeping COVID-19 out of the conversation.
"I don't know exactly what that looks like, but if you're thinking about recruiting or college and thinking 'I'm getting the short end of the stick,' I don't believe that. If you are a high school player and believe you are a college football player, then you are going to play college football. COVID-19 is not the one standing in the way. You might have to be resilient, but you're going to get the opportunities, you really are.
"The in-state recruiting will change a little bit. It just will. I don't know what the NCAA is going to do? I know our signings days are in December and February, so they would be starting the season after or signing days. There are several kids nationally that are already committed and we have a few ourselves that are already committed. In recruiting -- just like everything else -- we have to change and adapt to the rules that are out there and try to do a good job. We may take a kid without seeing any senior film. Some kids we may take just based on their junior film."
Right now, SIU is scheduled to play at Kansas on August 29. The Dawgs would then travel to UT Martin on September 3 and open up home play on September 19th against Southeast Missouri State.
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.
2020 SIU FOOTBALL SCHEDULE2020 SIU FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 29 at Kansas TBA
Sep. 3 at UT Martin 6:30 PM
Sep. 19 SEMO 6 PM
Oct 3 NORTHERN IOWA 6 PM
Oct. 10 at Illinois State TBA
Oct. 17 at Missouri State 2 PM
Oct. 24 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 2 PM
Oct. 31 at Youngstown State 1 PM
Nov. 7 INDIANA STATE 2 PM
Nov. 14 WESTERN ILLINOIS 2 PM
Nov. 21 at North Dakota 1 PM