Miami was scheduled to wrap up its season on Saturday with a noon kickoff at Bowling Green. The RedHawks hoped to put the best possible face on a season that originally was due to include at least 12 games before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out spring practice and almost forced postponement of actual games to next spring.
Instead, the Mid-American Conference announced on Thursday that Saturday’s game was cancelled. Just like that, Miami’s season was over.
“The Miami University at Bowling Green State University football game on Saturday, December 12 has been canceled due to roster issues with the Miami football team related to positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent contact tracing,” the conference said in its official announcement. “The game has been declared a no contest.”
That leaves Miami with two wins, one loss and three no contests in 2020. Lost were opportunities to defend the East Division and conference championships the RedHawks won in 2019. The RedHawks saw home games against Ohio and Kent State cancelled.
The players learned about the cancellation about 11 a.m. on Thursday during a team-wide Zoom session, wide receiver Jack Sorenson said.
He admitted to a certain level of frustration.
“At times, you feel like banging your head against the wall, but you can’t focus on things that are uncontrollable,” the fifth-year senior said while moving out of his apartment and preparing to head home to Chicago for the holidays. “You have to focus on the thing you could do. We had an awesome season with the season we were allowed to have.”
That includes Sorenson, who finished the season with eight catches for 177 yards and four touchdowns in Miami’s 38-7 win at Akron on Nov. 28. The yardage and touchdowns were single-game career highs as was his 61-yard touchdown catch. He exactly doubled the receiving yardage he’d accumulated in the RedHawks’s first two games.
Miami’s coaches urged the players all season to focus on what they can control and set aside what they couldn’t, but that didn’t mean some players didn’t feel frustrated at times,
“At times, I think we dragged each other along,” Sorenson said. “It was not an easy season. I think I feel more physically and mentally exhausted after this season than any season I’ve ever played. We’d have constant conversations with each other – ‘How are you doing?’ and ‘How are things going.’ The past three or four months have taken a toll on the whole program.”
Mid-American Conference university presidents reversed in September their earlier decision to postpone the season and voted to allow teams to play six games against only MAC opponents, plus a conference championship game. That cost Miami four non-conference games – at Pittsburgh and at home against Arkansas Pine Bluff, the “Victory Bell” game against Cincinnati and Army – and a fourth home conference game.
Besides their MAC schedule, the RedHawks are scheduled to play at Cincinnati, Minnesota and Army and at home against Long Island University Post in 2021 non-conference games.
The NCAA has determined that players won’t be charged a season of eligibility for 2020, which means seniors can return for 2021. Sorenson plans to come back, but his sense is most of the seniors expect to leave. Wednesday (Dec. 16) is the first date recruits in football can sign letters of intent.
“It’s really hard to get a sense of what’s going on the way things are right now,” he said. “I think I can get a better sense in the next day or two, but I think a majority of the guys are ready to move on and start their lives.”