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Yesterday the University of Connecticut made the decision to pull the plug on their 2020-2021 football season. Their official athletics Twitter Page posted the following: “After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we’ve decided that @UConnFootball will not compete on the gridiron this season.”
Despite Connecticut having some of the lowest numbers for Covid-19 (50,110 confirmed cases and 4,437 deaths), they’ve continued to tread carefully through the pandemic, even pausing re-opening stages due to a nationwide spike in the disease.
The state also has a travel advisory list that requires a 14-day self-quarantine and the completion of a travel form. The list is currently over 30 states and Puerto Rico.
Brian Forster, co-host of the “In Storrs Now” podcast, which specializes in UConn athletics thinks that canceling the season during the pandemic, may ultimately benefit the team: “They are really young and can probably use a year to lift weights and get older. Plus, they would lose money playing at Rentschler (Field).”
Part of it has to do with teams playing conference-only schedules. Their biggest games were against opponents like Virginia and North Carolina (ACC), and Ole Miss (SEC). He also mentioned that while games like UMass, Old Dominion and Liberty could be played, what would the point be?
With UConn becoming an independent team, due to their switch from the American Athletic Conference to the Big East (who doesn’t support football), they relied on drawing fans to the stadium. Especially when their new TV deal with CBS doesn’t kick in until the 2021-2022, season when all home games will be carried.
So what will UConn focus on at this time? “Continue getting stronger and growing up,” said Forster, “it’s a very young team. It’s a weird time, maybe the NCAA makes an exception, like they did for baseball.”
Without a season, the question now becomes, how will it affect recruiting? “I don’t think it’s a factor,” said Forster, “it’s not like it is any more or less attractive a place to play. I still don’t think teams are going to play this year. If they were recruiting the top players in the country, it might be different.”
What does it mean going forward though? Most sports know that UConn’s bread and butter is their men’s and women’s basketball teams. Will those be cancelled?
“I think they are taking a wait and see approach,” said Forster. “Head basketball coach Dan Hurley is confident there will be a season. Maybe it is an only Big East schedule. There’s no need to cancel stuff for November yet.”
So with the university waiting to see what’s next, UConn will continue to build its program during it’s season off. They have 14 recruits coming to the program next year and hope to get back to the promise they had under head coach Randy Edsall in 2010.
For more information on the UConn Huskies football team and other athletics, follow “In Storrs Now” on Facebook, as well as Twitter and Instagram @InStorrsNow.