I had a chance to talk with both coaches who will be playing in the Outback Bowl. Normally, it’s a face-to-face opportunity but, now in the 2020 Season of Covid, those conversations have been relegated to an online Zoom call.

Sadly, until we have put the pandemic behind us, that’s the best that any member of the media can do and “It’s Sports Magazine” is no exception. It is what it is, so to speak.

Here’s the question I asked of Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin (yes, that’s former Bucs DC Monty Kiffin’s son) and Indiana HC Tom Allen. Enjoy.

LH : In a normal season, you’d be at the Outback Bowl enjoying three or four days day of 80 degree temperatures in Tampa. Now, with Covid, you have to fly in and fly out and not have that experience. How hard is it for you to convince your players that this is a reward and not business as usual?

LK : We were able to push back to coming until the next day. We are going to have to sequester on New Years Eve at the hotel due to Covid issues and stuff. We’ve going to be trapped in the hotel so we’re going to stay down on Saturday so the players will be able to get out a little bit after the game.

TA : Yeah, I just think that’s the reality of what we are dealing with. You see that teams have made decisions about not playing. Some felt like it wasn’t worth it for different reasons but we have a special group of guys. We had some good family talks about this. I wanted them to want to go and they do and we did. We talked it through as a family and we let them decide. Once that decision was made, there was no turning back. It was an awesome mindset and buy in. Yeah, I wish we could go down there but the whole year has been like that. Nothing has felt normal with this year. We were just talking about that when we had a big Christmas dinner with our guys. The fact that how few times that we had our team together, outside of practice, since they came back to campus over the summer. Everything has been so segmented for so many times. You can count on one hand the opportunities we’ve had to be together and this is no different. I just think that our guys have made a decision. They know it’s not going to be quite the same but it’s still a tremendous opportunity to be in a bowl game that I’ve always had circled. I’ve always wanted to take a team down from Indiana to the Outback Bowl because of the location and the teams that have played there in the past. The Big Ten teams that have gone down there. When I was coaching, during the game and the different activities associated with the game and watching the teams practice, it’s something. I can remember going to the breakfast they had for all the area coaches with the teams that were there. It’s just things for me personally. To have the opportunity to go to this bowl game is an awesome thing for our program. We look at it as a super positive thing for us. Yeah, it’s a little bit different in the number of days we would be there. We’re still there a few more days than normal. We are not going to be distracted by what we don’t have but what we do have. We’re going to focus on the great opportunity this bowl game has for our program and the opportunity that each guy has been given. They’re fired up to be going and they can’t wait to get on that plane on Wednesday to head down south.