Playing football in the middle of a pandemic (even one in its waning days *knock on wood*) was never going to be easy for programs with limited resources, and unfortunately not everyone is seeing it through to the finish line.
As of this writing, three programs have opted out in the last 24 hours, and that doesn’t include cases like South Dakota who, because of opt outs by their opponents, have no choice but to declare their season over as well.
“We all knew this was going to be a different kind of season, but as we moved forward and games were canceled due to COVID-19, it became apparent that what our team needed was a degree of certainty moving forward,” USD AD David Herbster. “After the SDSU game being canceled and Western opting out, the only certainty we could offer our program at this time is the upcoming fall season.”
New Hampshire, for instance, began the year ranked No. 14 in the FCS STATS Top 25, lost their March 5 opener to Albany, and then didn’t play again. After three straight cancellations due to covid cases within their own program, New Hampshire announced Tuesday it has ended a 6-game season at 0-1.
“(L)ike so many other programs around the country, the virus took its toll on us,” head coach Sean McDonnell said. “I am constantly reminded that the virus controls us, we don’t control it. While I am very disappointed for the team, their families, and our staff, I know in my heart that sometimes the right decision is the hardest decision.”
The good and bad news is the season’s almost over. Selection Sunday is on April 18, and many teams will play their final games this weekend. Come the 18th, the FCS selection committee will opt out of all but 16 teams, as the strongest, healthiest teams will fight for a spring national title.
Here are where the opt-outs stand as of today. This, of course, does not include the 35 programs who never attempted a spring campaign.
Cal Poly (3/29)
New Hampshire (4/6)
Rhode Island (4/7)
Illinois State (3/21)
Western Illinois (4/6)
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.