Distinctive busy faculty soccer season close to the end line
The longest college football season in history comes to an end this weekend after the Football Championship subdivision pushed most of its games into spring for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the Football Bowl subdivision teams held a shortened season last fall, the FCS took the unusual step of postponing its games until spring, despite some teams having been preparing since last summer. Players and coaches say the constant specter of a sudden shutdown of coronavirus logs made for a mentally draining season and that sporting directors only slightly mitigated the loss of revenue.
But at least they have to play the games.
South Dakota State and Sam Houston will play for the FCS Championship on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern in Frisco, Texas. This completes a shortened season marked by high-profile football and some historic accomplishments, but also dozens of games lost to COVID-19 outbreaks.
The day will also start a countdown of cause for concern: many programs will be inactive for less than two months before they come back together to prepare for fall football. Trainers tried to adapt.
The state of South Dakota played up to 10 real newbies, said coach John Stiegmeier, and made concessions on physical contact in practice.
“Our staff have decided to really limit the contact we have during training,” he said.
So did Sam Houston, although coach KC Keeler said the tribute to his players was far from physical.
“We came back in June and thought we were going to play in September and then suddenly it wasn’t on the table,” said Keeler. “And then we prepare for a spring season, but now there are a lot of questions: are we going to get to a spring season? Will there be spikes? It was physically and mentally demanding going through all of these ups and downs from June onwards.”
Daily or thrice-weekly testing for coronavirus posed a constant threat to players hoping to play and coaches hoping to field a team. Many programs did not play at all, and those who became familiar with postponements or cancellations – sometimes not just a game, but the season.
For James Madison, who was # 1 for most of the year, a five-week period towards the end of the regular season resulted in four cancellations due to the virus. A twice postponed game with Richmond, postponed for the final day of the regular season, allowed the Dukes to qualify for the Colonial Athletic Association’s automatic berth in a shortened 16-team playoff field. The Dukes won on April 17th, the day before the playoff field was set up, 23: 6.
The cost of the pandemic won’t be known until late June’s fiscal years, several sporting directors said, but the Dukes’ Jeff Bourne had an inkling of what the coronavirus cost his program.
Suffice it to say, revenues are down 90% to 95%, so this is a huge achievement, “said Bourne.
Not only did James Madison lose a $ 600,000 guarantee on a game in North Carolina that fall, the Dukes were only allowed to win 250 fans for their first two home games. They had an average of 3,616 fans for five home dates, almost 22,000 under capacity.
CAA commissioner Joe D’Antonio said the cost to the league for just COVID-19 testing during the playoffs of winter and spring sports was at least $ 500,000. Schools had to pay for the mandatory tests during the season.
A bonus for spring football: exposure. With no FBS games to compete with, Division I second division football got more television time and “was a real showcase for FCS football,” said John Hardt, Richmond director of sport.
And it rewarded the players who stuck to it. Hardt remembered attending Richmond’s first training session that spring.
“The joy I saw behind those masks on the players’ faces and then in their eyes and coaches, the spring in their step, to be able to do what they love and enjoy them so much I think “It was a real, really valuable experience,” he said.
And a break from the relentless uncertainty.
“We’ve been mentally engaged since last March when we were all sent home for COVID when our school went online,” said Logan Backhaus, South Dakota state senior linebacker. “Then we ramped it up in the summer when we came back, doing COVID checks every day. We were about to start the fall camp and then our season is canceled.”
With a win removed from their first national title, the Jackrabbits have also heard that the championship will be starred as some leagues and teams have decided against the competition.
“We have proven that we can win on the road. We have proven that we can win from behind. The people who say there is an asterisk behind this championship do not know the mental and physical work we are doing . ” I’ve been there for over a year now, “said Backhaus.
On Sunday this fight paid off for a first-time national champion.