- The University of Miami has withdrawn from the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl due to COVID-19 issues within the football program.
- It’s unclear whether there’s enough time to find an opponent for Washington State University before the game’s scheduled kickoff at 12:00 Noon EST on December 31.
- Miami is the fifth team to opt out of a bowl game this season due to COVID-19 protocols.
The resurgence of the COVID-19 omicron variant has played havoc with the world of sports including the college football bowl season. The most recent impact is being felt in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl (yep, that’s what the official name is thanks to the sponsorship of Kellogg’s)–the status of the game is in doubt after the University of Miami announced their withdrawal due to COVID-19 issues in the football program. On December 23, Miami announced that they would delay their departure for El Paso until the day before the game in hopes that they could dredge up a sufficient number of healthy bodies to compete.
Miami was scheduled to face Washington State University in El Paso, Texas but made the announcement on Sunday that they’d be unable to compete. One can only imagine how crushed the Miami players must be–playing in a meaningless pre-New Year’s bowl game in El Paso, Texas is the dream of every young boy growing up. At a time like this one can only share the words of the Whitney Houston classic written by Albert Hammond and John Bettis–yep, One Moment in Time. Here’s the money shot from the song (‘money shot’ being a well known term among musicians):
I want one moment in time
When I’m more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I’m racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel
I will feel eternity
Deputy Director of Athletics/Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Strawley tried to summon up the words to express the disappointment of not only her football program, but a stunned nation:
“We are extremely disappointed that our football team will be unable to participate in the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. But due to the number of COVID-19 cases impacting our roster we do not have enough student-athletes to safely compete, and the health and safety of our student-athletes will always be our top priority. This team worked hard all season to earn a bowl invitation and my heart goes out to our student-athletes, especially our seniors. I also want to thank Interim Head Coach Jess Simpson and our football staff for all of their efforts in preparation for this bowl game.”
“We regret the impact this has on the Washington State program and their postseason experience. I want to commend the Sun Bowl Association for their tireless work in helping us navigate this situation over the past several days. We are grateful for their support as an Atlantic Coast Conference bowl partner.”
As for Washington State, they kept their COVID prevention game tight and are already in El Paso waiting for their ‘moment in time’. The Sun Bowl powers that be are now trying to track down an opponent for Washington State which is no easy feat on five days notice. Here’s what bowl executive director Bernie Olivas said about the situation:
“It is very disappointing that COVID is taking a toll on so many college football teams and bowl games. As of this moment, the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl game has not been cancelled, although the University of Miami has withdrawn from the game. We are currently looking for a possible replacement-team, in the hopes of having one to compete against Washington State.”
Washington State’s athletic department released this statement:
“It is disappointing news that the University of Miami is unable to participate in the 2021 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. We will work with the Pac-12 Conference and the Sun Bowl Association to hopefully find a replacement opponent for the game.”
There was some immediate support among the locals for the University of Texas-El Paso aka UTEP to take Miami’s place. The problem is that UTEP has already played in a bowl game, losing to Fresno State in the PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl on December 18. College football insider Brett McMurphy doused this idea with cold water:
Not sure how Mr. McMurphy of The Action Network became the point man for scheduling Sun Bowl teams but he’s already been approached by Stephen F. Uastin University’s head coach:
Props to Coach Carthel–it takes a lot of balls to even consider accepting a game against a Pac-12 opponent on four days notice. Stephen F. Austin is a FCS team that went 8-4 this season and would love the opportunity to compete against a FBS opponent. They’d even make the brutal 800 mile, 12 hour drive across Texas from Nacogdoches (about an hour from the Louisiana/Texas line) to El Paso.