When Scott Milanovich accepted the job as the Edmonton Eskimos next head coach in mid-December, he had to finish out the NFL season with the Jacksonville Jaguars before turning his full attention to the Eskimos and the CFL.
At the time he thought it would be a short off-season. It has turned out, because of COVID-19, to be the longest off-season ever for the CFL.
The league is searching, but there is no official plan to play the 2020 season. But we know if they do play, it will be a shortened season and won’t start before September.
So that leaves Milanovich with extra time on his hands. He has used that to prepare for the new season and get caught up on the CFL, but the 47-year-old father of two teenage girls has also enjoyed quarantining with his family in Florida.
“In this business we rarely get as much time as we have had to spend time with your family. I’ve been gone so much, so its been a blessing form that stand point.”
In January, Milanovich put his coaching staff together and and began reaching out to the players and said the reception was good.
“Its been all positive.Iit usually is in the off season,” he said with a chuckle. “The guys seem excited, they are really itching to get started.”
When they get started is not known, but Milanovich is planning for the fall.
“I’m hopeful. We are preparing as if we are starting in September.”
While the coaches are not permitted to talk with players at this time, they can talk to each other and Milanovich and his staff have spent hours preparing for if and when the season begins.
“We are trying to do break downs of each team. We don’t know what the schedule is going to be, so we are trying to be prepared for any of the other eight teams that we may open with or play early in the season.
“Obviously with the shortened season it will make every game more important. We are trying to cover all our basis that way.”
Working remotely has not been an issue for Milanovich. He’s done it a lot through his CFL coaching career starting in 2007 when he was the quarterbacks coach in Montreal.
“As a staff, as an organization we have done a good job of figuring out how to do this remotely. I think the CFL has some history of doing these things. I just got off about a thee-hour meeting with our offensive staff.
“The good thing is we are still able to work and communicate and get our jobs done without actually being in Edmonton. Its been as seamless as it could be.”
When he does get to Edmonton and training camp begins, Milanovich knows camps will be different due to the circumstances. He says he will make some changes from the way its always worked in the past.
A CFL season is usually refereed to as a marathon not a sprint. If 2020 does happen it might actually be a sprint and Milanovich knows they have to be prepared.
“If you’re talking a week — maybe 10 days or two weeks for training camp — you will really have to prioritize what you need to install and what you think the players can handle, and how do you evaluate that quickly and make clear decisions?”
Thursday was to be the CFL opener with the Eskimos hosting the B.C. Lions in the first regular season game. As of now, the league has not released any information on how they are planning to move forward.