Lions assistant coach, former MAC receiver, devastated by conference canceling season

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
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While the NFL pushes forward with its plans for a 2020 season, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and conferences are struggling with the immediately viability of sports. 

The Big Ten and SEC recently reduced their slates to eliminate all or most of the non-conference schedule, while the University of Connecticut became the first FBS football program to cancel its season.

On Saturday, college football got another jolt when the Mid-American Conference followed suit, canceling all fall sports.

New Lions special teams coach Brayden Coombs.

"The decision is grounded in the core values of the Conference that prioritize student-athlete well-being, an area the MAC has traditionally taken a leadership role,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement. “Clearly, we are charting a conservative path — and it is one that has been recommended by our medical advisory group."

Detroit Lions rookie special teams coordinator, and former Miami (Ohio) wide receiver, Brayden Coombs was in a team meeting when the MAC announced its decision. He shared his reaction to the heartbreaking news in video conference with reporters shortly after the announcement.  

"It’s devastating," Coombs said. "My time at Miami, to this day, is some of the best years of my life. Lifelong relationships and friendships and all that started with the football program. So, I’m really hurt for those guys. I have friends who coach in the MAC, got to reach out to them, obviously disappointed for them. It’s unfortunate, as there’s obviously been a lot of unfortunate circumstances over the last several months.

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"Hopefully, the people that we’re entrusting to make these decisions have a good feel for what’s best and are making the right decisions — but even if it’s the right decision, it’s still really disappointing, especially for the kids in those programs right now," Coombs said. "They’re never going to get that time back, so hopefully we can work something out for the spring, or figure something out because really, really disappointing."

Brayden's father, Kerry, is currently serving as Ohio State's defensive coordinator and secondary coach. 

"I think he is like everybody else, trying to work his way through it and frustrated that we can’t just go and play ball and do things the way we’re used to doing," Brayden said. "But knowing him, he’ll adjust. He’ll be fine. I know that they’re really hoping they can play because I think they feel really good about the team they’ve got this year. So, we’re all hoping it works out. And I think they’re doing the best they can given the circumstances."

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