Photo courtesy of Stephen Slade/Connecticut athletics
It was reported on Wednesday that Connecticut had become the first FBS program to cancel its 2020 season.
The Huskies had just become an FBS Independent once again after leaving the American Athletic Conference. Safety concerns for players related to the COVID-19 pandemic were cited as the reason for the decision.
“We engaged and listened to the concerns of our football student-athletes and feel this is the best decision for their health, safety, and well-being,” head coach Randy Edsall said in a release. “Our team is united in this approach and we will use this time to further player development within the program and gear ourselves to the 2021 season.”
Reasons for Pessimism
For those hoping to see college football this season, there is speculation that this is the first domino to fall. With the pandemic continuing, many programs have been forced to shut down activities following outbreaks. Numerous FCS and NAIA conferences have already canceled sports for the fall, but there has been hope that FBS would power through.
UConn’s decision could be seen as one of inevitability. Other conferences maintain their hopes to play this fall. It’s possible that UConn just saw the writing on the wall and it’s only a matter of time before others follow suit.
Reasons for Optimism
Conversely, there are plenty of inferences to made that this is an isolated decision due to factors specific to UConn. With most conferences switching to exclusively league games, trying to find a way to play eight or 10 games during a pandemic may have simply been too difficult for UConn.
The Huskies had already lost games against Illinois, Ole Miss, Indiana and Maine to cancellations. With the ACC switching to the “10+1” model, contests against Virginia and North Carolina seemed highly unlikely as well. Other conferences are still undecided on how to move forward. With the season set to start next month, there may not have been enough time for UConn to make a respectable schedule.
Not having a 2020 football season may not be the worst thing in the world for the Huskies. With the program transitioning from the AAC to an Independent and the uncertainty of the pandemic, scrambling to play games this season may have been a recipe for disaster.
As a program, an extra year and fresh start as an Independent under normal circumstances might be what is in UConn’s best interest. The Huskies have suffered through nine straight losing seasons. They’ve managed just one bowl game during that stretch.
UConn has not won more than three games in any season since 2015. It has done so just once since 2013. The Huskies failed to win a conference game in each of its final two seasons in the AAC. It had won just three total AAC wins in the last four years.
The last winning season for the Huskies came in 2010. That year, they claimed the Big East title before falling to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.