USC released a Q&A with Athletic Director Mike Bohn on Monday, where Bohn discussed his daily routine in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, how the school is dealing with uncertainty this fall, his thoughts on whether there will be a football season in 2020, and USC’s recruiting hot streak.
Bohn on his daily routine:
“So many of us are in a different routine. I really don’t like to talk about new normals, old normal, all that stuff. It’s a different routine and it clearly is a journey. I just can’t tell you how inspiring it is to be with so many incredible professionals to help me, help us, help our student-athletes, our program, our university through this challenge. I think it really starts with the president (USC president Carol L. Folt) and the president’s leadership team.
I’ve been meeting virtually every night from about 5:30 to about 7:00, and for a while there it was every day, even through the weekend, just monitoring developments associated with the hospital, our students and obviously every unit there is represented on campus. That team is really the core, but then you start working with your own athletic department team and our coaches, and then having the opportunity to reach out and talk with some of our wonderful stakeholders that help us—that’s donors, that’s sponsors, that’s doctors and our mental health professionals—all those people that are a part of that team.
But then also have the ability to engage with athletic directors and conference commissioners from across the country. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in this business 35 years, so it’s amazing sometimes you’ll go, ‘Oh, I should call so-and-so, they’ll have an idea.’ And to be able to catch up with them and get some insights from them is invaluable, and I really have enjoyed watching the profession be all in.”
Bohn on the potential for different states to put forth different policies:
“One of the biggest challenges is the difference in leadership initiatives coming from the states. So obviously California is the leader, and you saw how Washington, Oregon and California governors have worked together. And then you have outliers like Colorado and Utah, and different scenarios involving their states.
The neat thing is Larry [Scott] starts out every day with a meeting of the Autonomy 5 (Power 5) commissioners and what they’re working on. So that input from him helps pull the national perspective in very, very quickly and we’re fortunate to be in the Pacific time zone, so by 8:30, when those calls commence, then he already has all the download from the SEC, the Big Ten, the Big XII and everybody else that helps pull that together.
It’s very, very helpful and the league has been more than collaborative. I think the league is committed to trying to ensure we’re doing everything we can to help everybody in the league, but recognizing the individual challenges are unique.”
Bohn on how USC is moving forward:
“It’s all about scenario planning and I think it’s important to have a plan. To give you an idea, just having all those different scenarios play out or built—I really have to salute some wonderful members of our team, particularly Brandon Sosna, who built an incredible tool that allows us to pull different levers that adjust budgets, that adjust plans, sizes, all those different things based on those different scenarios, and that type of resource allows us to quickly see what the impact is on the budget, the finances, the moves associated with whether it’s football with fans, without fans, reduction in fans—all the different pieces that contribute to that.”
Bohn on whether the bigger issue lies with revenue numbers or logistics:
“It’s both (numbers and logistics). You start thinking about, okay, how are we going to protect you and how are we going to protect those around you? You’re in close proximity, so what do we need to be able to do to put that together? What are we going to need to do on our benches? What are we doing in the locker rooms? What are we doing on buses and airplanes and all those different pieces? So clearly it’s logistics, but those logistics are tied to expenditures, too. Trying to understand the revenue pieces and also the expense side, trying to figure out, when we travel are we going to have to travel with a lot bigger jet, or two separate planes? All those different scenarios that you have to look at.”
Bohn on whether or not he believes there will be a 2020 football season:
“In my heart, I’d like to believe we can figure out a way to play some type of season in the fall. On the other hand, I recognize that we’ve got to be prepared in the event we don’t. I just don’t know for sure. But I’m the eternal optimist. I was thrilled to see the excitement and enthusiasm around the NFL Draft and how exciting it was to have two Trojans picked highly. Again, that energy, the TV ratings there just show you the hunger people have for sports and we want to ensure that when we are ready to go, we have all the different pieces of the plan in place, so that we don’t have to digress again and then be in a similar boat.”
Bohn on USC’s spring recruiting surge:
“I think it’s miraculous. It really is. It’s impressive. More importantly, Clay Helton and those new coaches and the existing coaches that are on that staff—they have attacked this recruiting piece with a competitive spirit, a gusto, with an all-in approach, and they’ve taken advantage of some of the additional tools that we’ve been able to put in place and young men are responding. For us, currently, to be ranked in the top five in the nation with our ’21 recruiting class—and I anticipate some further good news coming quickly—I’m excited about that.”