Is it time to pull the plug on college football, as well as all fall sports? (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)
By Matt Noonan
It’s time to pull the plug on the upcoming college football season. It is also time to call off any and all fall sports, including field hockey, soccer, and volleyball contests.
Canceling sporting events is no easy task. These are hard decisions, but we have to respect the conferences and schools that have already elected to forgo the upcoming fall sports season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic so they can keep not just their student-athletes safe and healthy, but also their coaches, fans, and team representatives.
Playing football or any sport during a pandemic just doesn’t seem feasible at a time when various states across the country are experiencing an uptick in cases.
Sure, some may think conferences like the Ivy League or New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) should have waited an extra week or two, but remember, they were the ones leading the way back in March when everyone was ordered to shelter in place.
If Sankey is concerned about the upcoming college football season, then you should be, too. And if there is no SEC football this fall, then expect no other league to play, as well.
More decisions are coming. And again, we need to be respectful to whatever these colleges and conferences decide to do. But with so much uncertainty heading into the upcoming school year, it just seems unlikely that any of us will see a college sporting event take place either here in Massachusetts or around the country until next January. And that is fine with me.
Today’s announcement follows previous decisions made by other conferences and schools, including Bowdoin College which was the first member of the NESCAC to cancel its fall sports season, while also delaying the start of its winter sports season until next January.
Amherst College and Williams College also announced recently that none of their respective fall sports programs would be competing this year, including the both football teams that have been competing in the ‘Biggest Little Game’ since 1884.
The NESCAC cited “the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and the broader community the foremost concern” with making the decision to cancel the fall sports season for its 11 members, along with its seven championships they sponsor.
Middlebury College, which captured last year’s NESCAC Field Hockey championship, defeated Franklin & Marshall in the national title game while Tufts University captured the NCAA D-III men’s championship with a 2-0 win over Amherst College.
Middlebury and Tufts have yet to cancel or suspend their respective fall sports programs as of this afternoon.
According to D3Playbook.com, the NESCAC is not the first D-III conference to either cancel or suspend fall sports. The Centennial Conference (CC) announced earlir this week that none of their schools would play fall sports, including football, while a few conferences hope to play only league games this fall.
Welcome to Wednesday, everyone – hope you are ALL doing well while continuing to stay safe, happy, and healthy.
Let’s get to some headlines, beginning with the return of Major League Baseball (MLB) – yay, baseball is back!
Noontime’s Headlines for Wednesday, June 24, 2020
There will be a baseball season, beginning late next month.Teams will be reporting to their home cities next week to take part in spring training 2.0. And one of those teams – the Philadelphia Phillies– seem excited to be back on the field to begin preparations for hopefully a successful 60 game season.
It was announced yesterday that Tufts University would be opening its doors to students this fall. But if students don’t feel comfortable returning to campus, they can either study remotely “or take time away from Tufts,” according to The Tufts Daily. Students will need to make a decision about the fall between now and Tuesday, June 30.What does this mean for Tufts athletics? Will we see the Jumbos compete in football?
As of now, a 2020 schedule hasn’t been posted, but like other schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), we should know more in the coming days and weeks.
Frank Stola and the Williams College football team will be one of the favorites in the NESCAC this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College Athletics)
Our WAY too early New England D-III football preseason coverage rolls on with some predictions on who we think will win their respective conference this season.
Yes, we know these are VERY early predictions and they will certainly change once we get closer to kick-off, but for now, enjoy some way too early thoughts (from your friends at Noontime Sports) on who we think will celebrate a conference championship in November.
Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC)
Predicted Winner(s): Endicott College or Western New England
Teams to Watch: Husson University, Nichols College, and Salve Regina University
Quick Synopsis: Yes, we know the Gulls and Golden Bears will be the teams to watch this fall, but don’t overlook Husson, Nichols, and Salve Regina as these three teams that will certainly challenge Endicott and Western New England for the CCC crown. Western New England has won the conference the last three years while Endicott has come close the past two seasons to snatching the title from its rival.
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC)
Predicted Winner: Dean College
Teams to Watch: Maritime (N.Y.)
Quick Synopsis: With a 4-1 conference mark, the Bulldogs were able to win their first-ever ECFC title last fall, so expect that momentum to continue one year later. Maritime (N.Y.) will also be a team to watch this season, while the other ECFC teams should provide challenges to both the Bulldogs and Privateers.
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)
Predicted Winner(s): Framingham State or UMass Dartmouth
Teams to Watch: Bridgewater State and Western Connecticut
Quick Synopsis: The Rams of Framingham State have enjoyed a great deal of success the past few years, but could this be the year of the Corsairs? With quarterback Stephen Gacioch leading the UMass Dartmouth offense this fall, expect the Corsairs to challenge the Rams for the top spot in the MASCAC.
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)
Predicted Winner(s): Wesleyan University or Williams College
Teams to Watch: Middlebury College, Trinity College, and Tufts University
Quick Synopsis: As of now it seems as if this conference could be a two-team or five-team race for the NESCAC crown. Williams will welcome back an impressive senior class that should help them overcome the challenges to secure their first outright title since 2008. Keep your eyes on Trinity and Tufts – these two teams could play spoiler – and, of course, don’t overlook the Cardinals of Wesleyan, who will return some impressive talent on both sides of the ball.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)
Predicted Winner: MIT
Teams to Watch: Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, and Springfield College
Quick Synopsis: Coach Brian Bubna and the Engineers have won back-to-back NEWMAC championships so it is hard to pick against MIT, which will once again be one of a few teams to watch in this conference. The Bears of Coast Guard Academy could also be a team that takes that next step, but don’t overlook Merchant Marine and Springfield College. Also, let’s not count out WPI, which did graduate a big senior class, but will carry over some momentum from its 10 win season.
Western New England’s Steven Fedorchak will be one of many players to watch on the Golden Bears this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Marion)
Our early New England D-III football coverage has begun with our ‘Way Too Early‘ Top 20 Poll – what did you think?
Now, it is time to dig a bit deeper and highlight a few teams we believe fans should watch (and keep their eyes on) once the season officially kicks-off in a few months.
Dean College: After winning their first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title last November, the Bulldogs enter the 2020 season with a great deal of momentum. Sure, their 2019 campaign concluded with a difficult loss to the Gulls of Endicott College in the New England Bowl, but with a slew of starters expected to return this fall, including quarterback Terrell Watts, wide receiver Errol Breaux, and defensive end Wadell Alceus, don’t expect these Bulldogs to take a step backward.
Endicott College: The Gulls – like most squads highlighted on this list – did graduate some key players from last year’s squad, as well as their 2018 campaign, too. But Endicott does return some important pieces on both sides of the ball, including tight end Riley Shanley, defensive back Dylan Gardner, quarterback Dylan Bonfilio, and linebackers Tim Russell and Kevin O’Brien. All five players, along with some newcomers and returners will make the Gulls a team to continue to watch in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) conference.
Framingham State: After a slow start to its 2019 campaign, the Rams scored a must-needed win over Westfield State, which provided Framingham with all the momentum they needed to win their conference’s crown. This year, the Rams will look a bit different – they won’t have quarterback Adam Wojenskiunder center – but will have return some key pieces on both sides of the ball, including halfback Devaun Ford, who was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Rookie of the Year. On defense, look for Joshua Onujiogu to lead a unit that limited opposing rushing attacks to less than 100 yards per game.
Middlebury College: After winning nine consecutive contests last fall, it is hard to pick against these Panthers, who will certainly be challenged from the get-go. Yes, the Panthers bid farewell to some key players from a year ago, but welcome back quarterback Will Jernigan for one more season. Jernigan will be tasked with leading an offense that averaged 30.6 points per game while registering 410.6 yards per contest.
UMass Dartmouth: Quarterback Stephen Gacioch was fun to watch last season – he recorded career-bests in passing yards per game (277.6) and touchdowns (20) while rushing for a career-high six scores. Gacioch should be the player to watch again with these Corsairs, who ended their 2019 campaign with seven wins.
Wesleyan University: Quarterback Ashton Scott enjoyed a successful 2019 season – he finished with 17 touchdowns while completing 147 of 240 passes for 1,939 yards. Scott will be one of a few players to watch on offense – keep your eyes on halfback Glenn Smith and wide receiver Matthew Simco – while Taj Gooden will be asked to lead a defense that limited opponents to 19.1 points per game.
Williams College: We believe this Ephs team has a chance to win the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) this fall. They will be challenged, of course, but with quarterback Bobby Maimaron guiding the offense to linebackers Jarrett Wesner and TJ Rothmann leading the defense, these Ephs should be well-prepared to combat whatever they will face once their season begins in September.
Western New England: Some believed the Golden Bears were a bit lower than anticipated on our ‘Way Too Early’ New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll last week. And you know, we agree – these Golden Bears should have been a bit higher on our poll. Wide receiver Steven Fedorchak and linebacker Erich Keutmann should be able to help the Blue and Gold defend their conference crown not just against Endicott, but also other league foes.
A few other teams worth noting – we will certainly have more on them – include MIT, Salve Regina, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Western Connecticut.