From the time spring practices were shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Colorado football players and coaches held out hope that this season would be played.
That hope was officially crushed Tuesday when the Pac-12 announced it is postponing the fall season and all sports competition until at least Jan. 1.
“Really disappointed for our players today!!,” CU offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini wrote on Twitter. “They have done everything we have asked them and our University put in every protocol to protect them and keep them safe!! Love our guys and our time will come where we can represent Colorado back on Folsom Field again!!”
Head coach Karl Dorrell did not publicly address the situation Tuesday, but is scheduled to meet with media Wednesday.
Sophomore safety Mark Perry said he’s disappointed but not caught off guard to see the season canceled.
“I’m really not surprised by it, but it still takes a toll on you when you play football every year since I was like eight or nine,” he said.
Echoing Chiaverini, Perry said, “CU has done everything they can to protect us. We’ve had great protocols, we’ve been tested and all of those things.”
He then added, “But, ultimately the virus is everywhere. There’s no running from it.”
Despite the disappointment, Perry believes it was best to cancel the season.
“Speaking for myself, I have asthma, so I’m already high risk,” he said. “I was kind of already thinking about what I wanted to do. Of course I want to play football; that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to go to school and play football, but at the same time, I don’t want to affect myself who knows how many years down the road just because I wanted to hurry up and play this season. I just feel like it can wait. I’m only 19 years old. I’ve still got plenty of football left.”
Shortly after the announcement, Perry said he added another class to his schedule, could pursue some hobbies and hopes to make the most of the time away from football.
“Not only with school; you should make the most of it with training, preparing for if we play in the spring or when we play next season,” he said.
A silver lining to Tuesday was some clarity. After months of being in limbo, the Buffs now know there won’t be a season until 2021.
“Everything has been shaken up since March,” he said. “You get into a rhythm and then a couple more things happen to set you back some more. It’s kind of been like a start, stop kind of thing.
“It’s just something we have to deal with right now. It’s something the world has to deal with right now with the whole pandemic; it’s not just us.”
The Pac-12 will explore options of playing a spring football season, but commissioner Larry Scott said that won’t be easy.
“There’s a lot more work that needs to be done,” he said. “We’re going to exhaust every possibility to leave open that opportunity for student-athletes and our (TV) partners. We know how important it is for our student-athletes to be able to play; to do so as safely as possible, if it’s possible.”
One of the factors is determining how many other conferences will try to play, as well as trying to squeeze fall, winter and spring sports into a short window.
Playing a spring season, followed by the 2021 regular season a few months later could present problems, as well.
“That is one of the top questions and considerations: how many football games could be played in one calendar year?” Scott said. “It’s one of the reasons why considering the spring was not at the top of the list of things you wanted to default to right away. There are going to be some health and safety considerations.”
Lindsay weighs in
During a video conference with reporters Tuesday, former CU and current Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay said he doesn’t believe the college season should be played this year.
“Honestly it’s scary,” he said. “For those kids, they don’t have the protocols that we have (in the NFL). … Until they can come up with something (safer), I don’t think those kids should play because (the coronavirus) is real. I’ve seen people close to home that had it that have been in a hospital for seven, eight, nine days.”
As of Tuesday, the Pac-12 was one of four conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision to postpone its fall season. The other six are still planning to play. “Everyone’s going to make their independent decisions and certainly I respect our colleagues,” Scott said. “(This situation) may lead to differences and we accept that.” … Asked if he’s worried about other teams trying to get Pac-12 players to transfer, Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson said, “To the extent that others think there is an opportunity to essentially come recruit our players, we would say, ‘Hey, have it.’ We’re not going to change what’s important to us, which is protecting our student-athletes. We think our student-athletes will appreciate that we have done what is in their best interest short and long term and we’re going to continue to do that.”