BOSTON (AP) — Boston College, which managed to escape the worst of the coronavirus outbreak and the schedule and roster shuffling that has affected so many other college football teams, is passing on the opportunity to play in a bowl so players can spend Christmas with their families.
BC is the first school to forego the postseason because of the pandemic.
“A lot of these young men haven’t hugged their loved ones since June,” athletic director Pat Kraft said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. “I’m very, very, very proud of them and the sacrifices they’ve made.”
Meanwhile, three more major college football games scheduled for Saturday were canceled, including two with ranked Big 12 teams. No. 13 Oklahoma will not play at West Virginia because of COVID-19 issues with the Mountaineers. No. 23 Texas paused its football activities, calling off the season-finale at Kansas.
BC was arguably the most successful team in the country at navigating the COVID-19 outbreak, with one positive test all season — and that was in the final week. The Eagles (6-5, 5-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) played all 11 scheduled games, with just one of them postponed just one day — because of shuffling elsewhere in the ACC.
“What we did with COVID was bigger in my opinion than any game we could have win,” said coach Jeff Hafley, who was in his first year at BC. “I wish we could play every Saturday. But I don’t have to sit in a dorm room by myself.”
But Hafley said he could sense the strain of the unusual season on his players and called together his “leadership council” — one representative from every position group — to get a sense of how the team felt.
Together, they decided to pull the plug.
“When (linebacker Max Richardson) told the team that they’re going home to see their families, it was an uproar,” Hafley said. “At that moment I knew 100% it was the right decision.”
The rookie coach alluded to the fact that pandemic was still spreading in Massachusetts and most of the country. The worst-case scenario, he said, would be for the team to stay on an otherwise empty campus through December and then have the bowl canceled anyway.
“It’s getting worse,” Hafley said. “For us to go through three weeks of practice and not know: ‘Is the bowl game really going to happen?’ Are we going to miss Christmas with our families and then be told on the 25th that we’re not going to play?’”
At Texas, the Longhorns (6-3, 5-3) returned three positive tests after blowing out Kansas State last week, prompting school officials to shut down practice. The Longhorns had a walkthrough Wednesday only to discover there were more positive tests.
Kansas will finish 0-9, its second winless season since 2015. Prior to that, the Jayhawks hadn’t gone without a win since 1954.
In the Pac-12, Washington at Oregon is also in danger of not being played Saturday. Washington announced Thursday that its program remained on pause and the Huskies would not practice. That Northwest rival game will determine the Pac-12 North champion and a spot in the conference title game, if it is played.