Earlier this week, Illinois State stunned their Missouri Valley conference mates by canceling the remainder of their season, citing health and safety concerns.
“I have wrestled with this decision for a couple weeks now, but I feel like it’s a necessary move to protect our player’s health and safety and their ability to be ready come this fall,” Redbirds head coach Brock Spack said. “Injuries at key positions, especially on the defensive line where we suffered two more setbacks yesterday, have made it nearly impossible for us to play this week and extremely difficult for us to compete in the remaining four games. We appreciate all the support and hard work put in by so many in the ISU Athletics Department and on campus to get us to this point during these challenging times.”
Illinois State’s cancellation was richly ironic to Missouri State head coach Bobby Petrino.
Petrino’s Bears were set to host Spack’s Redbirds for their spring opener on Feb. 20, but the game was postponed to April 17 due to inclement weather in Springfield, Mo. The postponement was announced Wednesday, Feb. 17, and on Thursday the 18th the Bears’ soccer coach posted photos of his team practicing outdoors.
— Jon Leamy (@CoachJonLeamy) February 19, 2021
As the Springfield News-Leader points out, Spack saw those photos and wondered aloud why, if Missouri State’s soccer team could practice outside on Thursday, the football team couldn’t host a game two days hence.
“It’s hard for me to believe. I really don’t know what to believe right now,” Spack said. “I don’t get it. That soccer field looked plenty fine for me. I’m not buying it. There should have been a game this weekend. This is about the integrity of football and the integrity of the Missouri Valley. It’s really a bad look.”
Two days after that, Spack shot this video.
— Redbird Football (@RedbirdFB) February 22, 2021
A month after that, Illinois State’s season is over. The April 17 makeup game will not happen.
“I don’t know what’s going on there and why they did it,” Petrino told the News-Leader. “I don’t have any comment on them opting out or the reasons for it.
“Maybe their coach owes Missouri State an apology for the fact that we couldn’t play a game because of snow and ice and that he tried to pop off that we had some other underlying reasons — which is totally wrong. Other than that, I don’t have anything to say about them.”