Central Michigan football mailbag: Domino effect could spark from coronavirus budget cuts


Central Michigan wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton gestures for a first down against Northern Illinois Nov. 2 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

The coronavirus pandemic has halted everything.

From athletic events and practices to in-person recruiting, there's not much happening in the sports world.

With the 2020 college football season expected to be played, at least for now, there's light at the end of a dark tunnel that forced society into fear of what's to come.

To provide some relief, I decided to ask for some mailbag questions. Most of the inquiries I received were about the football team, but some are curious about the athletic department as a whole.

Here you go, folks.

Question: Is there a chance we see a certain wide receiver line up in the backfield taking some snaps?

There's been limited access to head coach Jim McElwain and his staff, so I can't give you a definitive answer. The athletic administration keeps all of the assistants away from the media, besides the offensive and defensive coordinator.

What I can tell you is wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton brings a skillset to the offense that nobody else has. He's the quickest, shiftiest player on the roster, and it's not even close. He had seven carries on jet sweeps last season for 81 yards, good for a 10.9-yard average.

I'll keep it simple: if McElwain doesn't use Pimpleton in the wildcat, especially without a quarterback like Tommy Lazzaro on the roster anymore, he'll be making a mistake.

Question: With construction halted on the Champions Center, it's likely it won't be completed in time for the season. Have you heard of any possible plans for perhaps getting the locker rooms ready first so they can be used while work on the rest of the building is completed during the season?

As of now, athletic director Michael Alford said the Chippewa Champions Center is still set to be completed by the Sept. 5 season opener. However, I doubt that will be the case. I expect there to be some type of delay.

However, it doesn't make sense to open a locker room in an active construction site. That won't happen. Looks like the Chippewas might be stuck in the trailers for a little longer than expected.

Question: Which true freshman is most likely to burn a redshirt?

Defensive end Cade Cote is the only player from the 2020 recruiting class that enrolled early. But with a lack of depth at the offensive line position, I wouldn't be surprised to see offensive guard Keegan Smith burn his redshirt. Donte Kent is one of the fastest players joining the roster, so he could see plenty of action in the return game. Those two players that could burn a redshirt outside of the obvious in running back Jordon Ingram, cornerback Daemon Hill and wide receiver Nahree Biggins. Without much at the linebackers spot, Lawaia Brown and Kyle Moretti could get substantial opportunities.

Question: What kind of budget cuts will the athletic department most likely have to absorb with the loss of NCAA allocations? Will it hit single programs or be spread over multiple teams?

There will be budget cuts, that's certain. I don't expect women's volleyball, men's and women's basketball and football to be heavily impacted. The equivalency sports are likely going to see the worst of this. Cincinnati recently cut its men's soccer team.

Budget cuts from the coronavirus pandemic are inevitable, but it'll come down to what the university requests. CMU athletics received $25.2 million of its $33.6 million budget from the university. Expect finances of institutional support to decrease, thus sparking a domino effect.

Question: Any information on how the coaches view Jordon Ingram?

The coaching staff is high on Jordon Ingram, the three-star athlete from St. Paul's Episcopal in Mobile, Alabama. He had plenty of Power Five offers but decided to join the Chippewas. He's on the roster as a running back and should fill a similar role as to what Lew Nichols played last season – four games, then keep the redshirt.

Question: Any word on how Keegan Cossou's development has been at defensive end?

Moving from tight end to defensive end, Keegan Cossou isn't going to be the No. 1 option on the depth chart. With a surplus of defensive ends, like Amir Siddiq, Deron Irving-Bey and Troy Hairston, it's safe to assume Cossou will stay as much-needed depth. He made just two tackles, one of which was for a 6-yard loss, as a junior last season.

Question: Is there any consideration of moving the WMU game at Ford Field to 2022? It seems very possible that because of the virus issues, it may not be as well attended as originally thought.

To this point, as people in the athletic department have indicated to me, there has not been any consideration of moving the 2020 game between CMU and WMU at Ford Field to the 2022 season.

The concerns, however, make sense and could prove detrimental to the university's plan to engage alumni and recruit high school students.