At approximately 4:31PM on August 10th, the Mountain West Conference confirmed the rumors that they were “postponing” fall sports competition. In a tweet and a press release, the conference announced:
“the indefinite postponement of all scheduled fall sports contests and MW championship events in response to ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus in conjunction with athletic competition”
Sports affected by the conference’s decision included:
“men’s and women’s cross country, football, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball (with the exception of the unique circumstances involved with the military service academies)”
According to Craig “The Hair” Thompson, this announcement came about because of:
“numerous external factors and unknowns outside our control made this difficult decision necessary”
Further, he stated:
“continue to navigate this pandemic together, overcome the obstacles and return to intercollegiate athletics at the earliest opportunity”
Boise State hasn’t had a statement from Bryan Harsin or coaches of the other affected sports as yet. According to multiple reports, Dr. Tromp is not making comments on the announcement yet, and only Curt Apsey had an official statement today.
"They were ready for every possible uncertainty, but in the end, the physical and mental well-being of student-athletes across the conference necessitated today’s announcement." - Apsey (2/2)— Ron Counts (@Ron_BroncoBeat) August 10, 2020
It has been announced that Coach Harsin will have media availability on Zoom this afternoon (8/11) so there will likely be more info after that.
So is the 2020 Season Cancelled?
Well, not technically, but for all practical purposes it certainly seems to be. The conference has left open the possibility of playing in the future should conditions change. They did not state a timeline or possible restart date as yet, nor did they lay out specific guidelines to allow for a resumption of the conference schedule, but that kind of information will likely filter out in the next day or two.
There is a possibility that the Service Academies (specifically Air Force for the MWC) could still play for the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy. The press release specifically stated that there could be allowances made for that possibility, and Air Force immediately released a statement on it as well.
What does this mean for the budget?
What budget? Per BJ Rains’ reporting, it’s not a rosy outlook.
Boise State estimated a $20 million loss if football was canceled, nearly "40 to 50 percent" of the entire athletic department budget.— B.J. Rains (@BJRains) August 10, 2020
This news will likely have huge ramifications for years to come. So scary, and disappointing:https://t.co/uYcE2OlMTv
That’s a helluva hit. There’s still a lot up in the air, including the potential for resuming play in the spring, but the money problems are real.
Could Boise State go Independent?
You’re all thinking it, so let’s get it out there. The season was already delayed to September 26th, couldn’t Boise State just go independent and play some games?
The Short answer: no
The Longer answer: nooooooo
Realistically, with the conference postponing play, you’d have to cut ties with the Mountain West, which would impact far more than just football. Then you’d have about a month and a half to scrape together an independent schedule. That is already a Herculean task, but as evidenced by BYU’s eviscerated schedule, it’s doubly hard this season.
The B1G, PAC-12, SEC, ACC, and BIG-12 have all gone to conference-only or plus-one formats. That means Curt Apsey is gonna be either negotiating for road games with a very limited selection of P5 schools (unlikely) or trying to swing some deals with the AAC/C-USA, as the MAC preceded the MWC in postponement of fall sports.
You could always hearken back to the glory days of Idaho and NMSU playing each other over and over by just trading visits with BYU, but that’s even less realistic than it was for the Aggies and Vandals.
Can’t We Just Play Non-Con?
Why not play our regularly-scheduled non-conference games that still exist? Our treasured Florida State game on the Blue was a casualty of the ACC schedule rework, and Georgia Southern has already announced that they are working with BSU for a future date.
That leaves games at Marshall and home versus BYU. C-USA is currently planning on their normal slate of games, but that feels like just another domino waiting to fall if all the Power 5 schools cut bait. It’s technically possible, I guess, but training up for a cross-country trip to one of the other states doing extremely poorly with COVID-19 positives seems like a bad idea if your season got postponed for player safety reasons.
BYU is much more likely, being as they are just down the way in Provo, but after today’s announcement they’re down to 3 of their original 12 scheduled games. Even assuming Boise State can play their game, that only gets BYU up to 4, and betwen pandemic considerations and players not wanting to duke out a short season, it too feels destined for postponement.
Technically, both games are possible, but incredibly unlikely.
How does this affect recruiting/eligibility?
We have absolutely no idea at the moment. Wait-and-see is your best policy, but it might be a while. As much as the NCAA has seemed reticent to get involved with the football schedule, it’s increasingly looking like they will have to make some important determinations, especially in this area.
Are our players gonna get poached by the Power 5?
This came up on Twitter not long after the announcement, and there was a proper tempest in a teapot about the prospect of losing Hank or George to some dastardly P5 coach. (DABO YOU LOUSE! BACK AWAY FROM THE TRANSFER PORTAL!)
It is technically possible for players to transfer, and there’s been a lot of allowed hardship waivers by the NCAA in light of the pandemic. But, occasional OBNUG contributor Dave Southorn has some good points:
It's definitely possible, but not sure if we are talking P5s who would a) have room, b) take guys immediately, and c) if they have, say, one year of eligibility left, trying to get them acclimated/ready to play in a month.— Dave Southorn (@davesouthorn) August 11, 2020
That seems at least hopeful.
Again, everything is super fluid, so there’s honestly a pretty hefty chance that the MAC and MWC calling off the fall is gonna help domino the B1G and PAC-12, who seemed pretty close to calling it off already. The ACC, SEC, and BIG-12 seem to be pushing ahead for the moment, but I think it’s premature to make any pronouncements as to whether or not the fall football season is actually a go/no-go just yet.
It’s too soon to tell, but I don’t think players getting poached is a major worry.
So what happens to The Countdown?
We know it’s at the forefront of your minds, dear readers. As always, the Countdown shall soldier on, only this time it counts down to nothing. We at OBNUG feel that it would be unfair for the last couple dozen guys to not get their write-ups, as they’ve all been working hard for this season that just went poof.
As for content past that, we’ve had some internal discussions on counting down EVEN FURTHER (stay tuned), as well as our Nuclear Option now coming into full play.
I swear to you I had no inside info before I published that yesterday, prescient though it may have seemed.
In the meantime, stay safe, wear a mask, love your neighbor...but most importantly: