College football: Miami game vs. Kent State on Saturday canceled due to COVID-19 issues

Miami’s Yager Stadium
Miami’s Yager Stadium

RedHawks looking into possibility of adding game this weekend

Miami could end up playing a one-game home football season in 2020 after the RedHawks’ game against Kent State scheduled for noon on Saturday at Yager Stadium was cancelled on Wednesday morning.

“Roster issues with Kent State football team related to positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent contact tracing,” were the reasons for the cancellation, according to a statement issued by the Mid-American Conference. The game was declared a no contest and won’t be rescheduled.

The last of Miami’s six-game regular-season schedule is at Bowling Green on Dec. 12.

Presidents of MAC schools originally voted to postpone the regular season to the spring before later deciding to play a six-game schedule with a conference championship game. The RedHawks (2-1) won their only home game, 38-31, over Ball State in the seasonopener on Nov. 4. After losing at Buffalo, 42-10, on Nov. 10, the home game against Ohio, scheduled for Nov. 17, was cancelled due to COVID-19-related roster issues among the Bobcats. Miami’s season resumed 18 days later with a 38-7 win at Akron this past Saturday.

Miami coach Chuck Martin sent out an email to his players at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, calling them to a Zoom meeting at 9 a.m., during which he gave them the bad news.

“Unfortunately, for me, it’s becoming normal,” Martin said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s not any worse than it was two weeks ago. It’s like, ‘Here we go again.’ We were talking about how many times they’ve gotten an email from their coaches about how we have bad news and we have a Zoom call. We’re almost a little numb to it. Unfortunately, 2020′s been a constant disruption, getting bad news.”

Martin has worked to avoid playing what he calls the “COVID blame game,” even though both of Miami’s cancellations have been because of opponents’ virus-related roster issues while the RedHawks have avoided problems.

“I hate it when people say, ‘They must have done something, so they got COVID,’” Martin said. “I feel bad for our kids. I feel bad for their kids. I feel bad for our coaches. I feel bad for their coaches. I feel bad for our fans. I feel bad for their fans. It’s not their fault. It’s not our fault. It’s disrupting all of society.

“I know our kids have made sacrifices, but even with that, it could easily happen to us.”

The cancellations cost the RedHawks a chance to defend the MAC East Division and overall championships they won last season, but Miami’s players will have a chance to get back on track next season. Martin pointed out that the NCAA has announced this season won’t cost any athlete a year of eligibility, so seniors can, if they choose, come back in 2021. The NCAA also plans to loosen 2021 roster restrictions, giving teams extra slots to accommodate extra returning players and recruits.

The last time Miami played fewer than five games in a season was 1900, when they were 0-2 under coach Alonzo Branch, losing 32-0 at Wittenberg and 16-12 at Cincinnati, according to the Miami Football Media Guide. That was Branch’s only season as coach.

Martin said Miami was looking into adding games against teams with matching open dates. Somebody pointed out that No. 7 Cincinnati has endured some cancellations, but the seventh-year Miami coach wouldn’t identify on the record specific teams with which the RedHawks have been in contact.

“Obviously, it’s short notice,” he said. “We looked into it the last time, but nothing made sense. There’s a possibility this weekend.”

Stay tuned.

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