Some head football coaches watch from a distance. They intercede when the need arises, but sometimes it seems as if the head coach is the guy who coaches the coaches.

Presbyterian College’s Tommy Spangler is not such a coach. He has hands on the shoulder pads and gives his orders from point blank.

The coming season is as tough as it’s going to get. Presbyterian has been gradually shedding scholarships in a war of attrition. As football grants diminish, the full complements in the rest of the Big South remain the same. PC’s membership in the conference – in football only – will end this year, and next year, the Blue Hose will phase into the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League, whose members are in eight different states and South Carolina, by way of PC, will be the ninth in 2021.

Two opponents, Stetson (in DeLand, Fla., on Aug. 31) and Jacksonville (Fla.) (at PC on Sept. 14), are future league opponents. Unfortunately, PC must weather one more year of Big South games against six teams more familiar and talented. In 2022, PC will be an independent.

College football players are experienced veterans of football wars. When practice begins, they already know what they are doing. The atmosphere is louder, the words coarser and candor a level more brutal.

Neither Spangler nor his assistants are shy, retiring types. They are preparing for war with few reinforcements.

When the tidal wave hits, they’d better know how to float.

It’s a miracle the Blue Hose have a Tommy Spangler. He knows well the knack for survival. This year, the Men of PC will do their dead-level best to hold their own against odds that seem impossible.

Morale was strong at Thursday morning’s practice. It didn’t look like a team with its backs to a wall.