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MWCConnection Roundtable: What are your thoughts on how the MWC handled the decision?

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The team weighs in.

NCAA Football: Mountain West Championship-Hawaii at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, the big news of the week: The Mountain West cancelled fall sports. How do you think the MWC handled the decision and how would you have done it differently?

Mike:

The decision to cancel was inevitable. No arguments there. The timing of the decision was confusing. Cancelling before the Power 5 conference probably wasn’t necessary, or at least without more of an explanation (I would assume it was finances without pay-out games). Again, the end result is the same but the process could have been different.

It sounds like many player and coaches were finding out at the same time as us, which is never helpful. Cancelling before other schools puts the MWC on different timelines and may lead to players seeking a transfer to teams that are playing.

Also, if this is all about player safety (which it should be), can players stay on campus to continue practicing and rehabbing and being around their friends for social and mental health benefits? Hopefully those answers are coming in the near future.

Zach:

In hindsight, the Mountain West dealt with the decision fine. But there were some major question marks at the time of the decision. Why now? The Mountain West cancelling before the PAC 12 made little sense in my opinion. It would have been catastrophic for the conference if other teams in the region were to play football. But here is the truth in all of this, nobody wants to be the first to make a difficult decision. These conferences are operating out of fear and to some extent I understand why. Let’s just hope that we get a season this spring, I’m not sure that some Mountain West programs will survive without it.

NittanyFalcon:

Nothing about this decision was inevitable. Each school in the conference could have done what was necessary for a full season. I agree that it was unlikely that everyone would sign on to what was necessary. Money and political factors were the primary drivers, as they are in nearly all decisions made in today’s society. I think the left and the right will agree on that. This can easily be seen in the response of the Air Force Athletic Director. He basically said we will play Navy and Army no matter what happens. Why is that? Money is not a factor since the Academy’s mission is fully funded by the government, and developing leaders and cadets who are dedicated to the mission are the primary factors. The political factors don’t apply because no one can say that the Academy doesn’t do everything necessary to protect their players, including isolating them from outside interactions and disciplined use of social distancing and face masks. It is not that difficult to demand certain behaviors from athletes. They are team oriented and will do what is necessary to play the game. However, there are factors that are important that don’t include money and politics. The Academies consider sports competition to be an important developmental activity that produces leaders and team players. Shouldn’t that be a factor in all colleges that teach young adults to be contributors to society?

I have the same concern as Zach that some MW football programs might not survive this decision, even with a bastardized spring season. I’m not prescient enough to forecast the future, but I don’t think the long term results of this decision will be positive. My guess is that the lawyers had the upper hand here and scared most of the conference into making this decision.

Vic:

It was only a surprise how swiftly the decision came after the new season start date announcement. SJSU president Mary Papazian chairs the MWC board and represents the MWC on the NCAA board and she’s very student/student-athlete centric. So, the health and safety reasoning behind the decision wasn’t a surprise.

It’s also insanely difficult to implement a bubble plan. There’s lots of moving parts the MWC (or any conference) has absolutely no control of. So, how the MWC really handles things remains to be seen. Only liabilities are more certain than any good outcome.

Basically, our college sports world is the tail at the end of the dog. A lot more has to happen way upstream before anyone can really connect the dots.

Graham_Gibson:

I do believe that the season being postponed indefinitely was inevitable, especially for teams that play out West because the virus seems to have a stronger presence in states such as California. So yes, postponing/cancelling was the right call, but I am left with confusion about the decision. The Mountain West pulled the plug before the PAC-12 and the BIG 10 and if those two conferences moved on, I would say that the Mountain West jumped a little too early. The conference had also just announced their plans for the fall season just days before, and that part especially left me very confused. Why spend the time trying to work out a schedule if you already have thoughts about postponing the season? I think circumstances are different for the PAC-12 especially because the conference made decisions about the schedule more than a couple days prior, in fact it was a reasonable amount of time between the two decisions. Both the PAC-12 and BIG 10 came out with full schedules, not just plans for a schedule, so there was no confusion about opponents. I think it would have made more sense to wait to see what other major conferences out West (PAC-12 specifically) would do before postponing and in this case if the PAC-12 and BIG 10 had decided to go forward with the season, then the Mountain West could have potentially announced similar plans then talked about the schedule changes when they were certain about moving forward. However, given the circumstances, it was the right call. It is better than only playing a game or two then losing the rest of the season.

Alex:

I feel that this decision was inevitable. The we were going to get to a point where the season would get halted due to a spread of the virus or stopped all together before it even started. It was surprising that the conference would announce its plan for the season and when it would start, and then cancel it less than a week later. Now that there has been a few days to sit on it, I am glad the conference went ahead and canceled it early instead of waiting and canceling right before the season started. I am sure the conference was in a tough spot, especially with schools in Hawaii and California. I will miss Mountain West Football this fall, but at the end of the day, I feel the conference made the smart and right decision.

FatDuckUW:

To me, the Mountain West came across as a bit reactionary/unorganized on this decision. For a decision that was in the works for almost 5 months as people wondered how COVID might impact college football, the Mountain West changed course twice in less than a week. It was just a little over a week ago that the Mountain West revised their schedule to one with 10 games that was set to start on September 26th. The Mountain West did not stay committed to this decision for long, announcing less than a week later that they would postpone fall sports. Craig Thompson said about his most recent decision, “We were hopeful we could carefully and responsibly conduct competition as originally scheduled with essential protocols in place. However, numerous external factors and unknowns outside our control made this difficult decision necessary.” A fairly vague answer for such a quick change in plans. That statement was just as applicable last week or even four months ago.

That said, my problem was with how the conference went about their decision in the last couple of weeks because the logistics to college football were always going to be hard. Additionally, some special challenges existed in the Mountain West. New Mexico is currently requiring people to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state. Hawaii also is requiring a 14-day self-quarantine for travelers. Even traveling to Boise may have been a problem since Ada County in Idaho is encouraging travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days. Those are just the problems unique to the conference. You still have to deal with all of the other problems with playing college football that are concerning enough that most of the country (JUCO, FCS, Division III & Division II, 54 of the 130 FBS teams) postponed until spring.