Yesterday, August 10th, was supposed to mark the beginning of a new season for a surging Ferris State (D-II - MI) program.
Head coach Tony Annese has built Ferris State into a premier Division II football program over the past eight seasons and has the program playing at a level that the school has never seen before including playing for the school's first national title in 2018 before finishing with a 15-1 mark in their runner-up finish. A case could certainly be made that they're the most consistent winner of all the Michigan colleges since Annese has taken over in Big Rapids.
While the Bulldogs lost some really good players to graduationd in 2019, the Ferris roster was loaded heading into the fall of 2020 before word came down that Division II was not going to move forward with a fall championship season. For a program with goals of competing for a national title, that decision by the NCAA all but ended their season before it officially began.
In his letter to players, coach Annese touches on a number of concerns the coaching community has been expressing concerns about over the last several weeks and months in regards to a cancelled season, including the mental health of his players (and himself) as well as the program defining goals that they have within their grasp when they are able to reunite as a team.
Annese was also very candid about where his thoughts have been since finding out that they wouldn't be taking the field together in 2020.
"This is a very difficult circumstance we are facing and it is easy for all of us to be trapped in our own misery. 'Self-pity is the greatest for of self-destruction.' I catch myself sometimes in that self-pity mindset and it si not a healthy emotional state. When I catch myself, I try to reframe my thoughts, but it is not always that simple to do. Please reach out to me, your position coach, Pastor Mike, Coach Schugars, a teammate, a friend, or a family member if you need someone to talk with! We need to exhibit the same love and support we show to one another throughout a season now as we navigate through the next few months."
See coach Annese's full letter to his team below.