North Texas is not making a scheduled trip to El Paso this Saturday, and UTEP is not happy about it.
North Texas was not comfortable traveling to El Paso given the recent rise in cases in the city -- El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego has instituted a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to curb cases -- a decision that Conference USA agreed with, according to a source familiar with the discussions. C-USA attempted to work with both schools to craft a release saying the postponement of Saturday's game was a mutual decision, but UTEP would not consent, the source said, and so North Texas put out the release itself.
The North Texas football team's game with UTEP scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31, has been postponed due to surging cases of COVID-19 in El Paso. The teams are working together to reschedule the game, and Conference USA will assist both teams with the schedule change.
The decision to postpone the game follows the issuance of a stay-at-home order as new, daily positive test rates have reached critical levels in El Paso.
"We are disappointed to have our first postponement of a Conference USA game, but the health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and coaches is our number one priority," said UNT President Neal Smatresk. "We send our best wishes to the entire El Paso community as they face the challenge of dealing with the latest outbreak."
The wording in UTEP's announcement makes it clear the school was not party to the decision.
"We are disappointed that North Texas has chosen not to come to El Paso for the football game this weekend," UTEP President Heather Wilson said in a release Tuesday. "We have a safe place to play and no players who are sick or in isolation, and North Texas has not indicated that any of their players are ill. We made the decision earlier today not to allow fans in the stadium.
"We are proud of the diligence that our student-athletes, coaches and staff have shown to put us in a position to play every week. We look forward to further discussions with Conference USA and North Texas on whether or when this game will be rescheduled."
It was reported that North Texas offered to instead host the game, but that was a non-starter with UTEP. Going to Denton would have put the Miners on the road for four straight games, dating back to Sept. 26. UTEP has played two home games this season, and none since Sept. 19. The Miners are slated to host FIU on Nov. 7 and UAB on Nov. 21.
Road trips have been a source of team-wide outbreaks this season. Florida, for instance, has not played since an Oct. 10 visit to Texas A&M.
UTEP head coach Dana Dimel told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday that North Texas should forfeit if the Mean Green do not make the trip to El Paso on Dec. 5 or 12.
"I want stronger parameters set," Dimel said, via the Denton Record-Chronicle. "'This is what has to happen, and you have to go play.' The other thing I want to push for, if these teams don't come back to play us in December, then they should forfeit these games.
"It would give validity to the whole situation."
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.