BY Art Thiel 06:08PM 11/20/2020

Cougars cancel game, Apple Cup in jeopardy

Pac-12 declared Stanford’s game Saturday at Washington St. no contest after nine Cougars players tested positive for COVID-19. Can WSU get healthy for the Apple Cup?

Happier days: Gov. Jay Inslee sent off the Apple Cup trophy to a sea of Huskies players and fans in the 2016 game at Martin Stadium. / Office of the Governor

The coronavirus took another bite out of the Pac-12 Conference football plan Friday when Washington State’s game with Stanford Saturday was canceled after the Cougars fell below the 53-player scholarship minimum needed to play. Per new league rules, it was declared no contest.

WSU learned Thursday that starting QB Jayden de Laura tested positive for COVID-19.

The Cougars’ next game, the annual Apple Cup Nov. 27 with Washington, is now in jeopardy because quarantine protocols again may keep them from fielding a team.

According to a New York Times interactive map of college campuses nationally, WSU has by far the highest number of cases in the state, at 1,4o7 Friday afternoon. UW’s Seattle campus is next at 875.

In an afternoon Zoom conference with media members, WSU athletics director Pat Chun said the department received results at 11 a.m. Friday that four additional football players tested positive after five earlier had been placed on the COVID-19 list.

Asked whether the Apple Cup might be saved by moving the game day from Friday to Nov. 28 or 29 to give players more time to return, Chun couldn’t say.

“It’s hard to speculate right now,” he said. ‘Right now, we’ll begin that process on Sunday to see where we are with our roster.”

Washington, which has already lost one game at Cal to a campus outbreak, is scheduled to host Arizona at 5 p.m. Saturday. Since the Pac-12 reached an agreement Thursday to allow non-conference games to replace canceled games, it’s possible that UW could find a replacement on that date. The earlier WSU cancels, the easier to find a playing partner.

On his Thursday Zoom before the threat to the Apple Cup was known, UW coach Jimmy Lake thought the non-conference option was good.

“I think it’s the right move,” he said. “For me, I would definitely want it to be a Pac-12 opponent first, if there was a cancellation for our game and another Pac-12 cancellation.

“But let’s say this week, if for whatever reason our game is not happening and everybody else in the Pac-12 is booked up, then I think it’s good. We’ve practiced and prepared so much that we want to be able to play a game and get that game in the books. It will be difficult to try to travel or try to get a team here, but we’ll work through those issues. And at the end of the day, let’s let these young men get out there and play.”

In a statement confirming the cancellation, the Pac-12 said the decision was based on “Washington State not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game as a result of a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols.”

The 53-player minimum must include at least one quarterback, seven offensive linemen and four defensive linemen.

“I’m disappointed for our team and our players,” first-year coach Nick Rolovich said in a statement Friday. “They have battled through so much this year. We had a good week of practice and were excited to play this game. I recognize the pain they feel with his lost opportunity but this 2020 football team is a resilient group of young men.”

Rolovich disclosed after its first game at Oregon State that 32 players were not available. He didn’t identify the players or the reasons. He said a full travel squad was not to brought to Corvallis, and that “if a few bad things happened, I’m not sure we could’ve lined up.”

A school official confirmed to The Spokane Spokesman-Review that the team held a normal practice Thursday in Pullman.

In a school statement, Chun said the Cougars fell below the 53-man threshold for “a number of reasons” and added that the school had been in communication with Stanford throughout the week, optimistic that the game could be played.

In a statement confirming the cancellation, the Pac-12 said the decision was based on “Washington State not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game as a result of a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols.”

Stanford looked at other options to play a game, but determined none was feasible, the school said in a statement.

After the season opener at Oregon State, Rolovich told reporters his team had 32 players unavailable, that the school didn’t bring a full travel squad to Corvallis, and that “if a few bad things happened, I’m not sure we could’ve lined up.”

Before de Laura’s positive COVID-19 test, the Spokesman-Review reported there had been only one known case on WSU’s football team and just five within the athletic department since daily antigen testing began in October. As of last week, the school had administered more than 5,000 daily tests to football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball players.

Men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith reported contracting COVID-19 on Wednesday, forcing him to miss at least one game. No other members of the basketball program were placed in the protocol.

WSU-Stanford is the sixth Pac-12 game to be canceled or changed this season.


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YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    The Cougs might be grateful since UW has won the last 7 meetings and lead the series 74-32-6. Coach James classic quote sums things up well: “I’ve always felt that being a Cougar prepares you for life. You learn not to expect too much.”

    Q: What’s the longest ten years of a Cougar football players life?

    A: His freshman year.

    😆😷

    • 1coolguy

      Haha – Love it! Bow Down to Washington all you Coug babies!
      I hadn’t seen the James’ quote

      • art thiel

        Where have you been? It’s been a staple of the rivalry for more than 30 years.

    • art thiel

      So here we go — the annual recycling. Hoping there’s something fresh, but this isn’t a very humorous time.

      • Husky73

        This is not the time for Apple Cup jokes, as 250,000 of our fellow citizens are dead.

  • Husky73

    These are young men— boys, really. Their health is more important than our entertainment.

    • 1coolguy

      99.8% of those under 50 that get the covid live. It’s time to get real about this. Do we lock up people with the flu? No. History will show this “lockdown” mentality is completely overblown. Chances are higher to die of a car crash than die from covid under 50. Do we take people’s keys away?
      The overwhelming majority of those who have died had an average of more than 2 co-morbidities, meaning other issues that could have killed these people. Pneumonia, heart issues, diabetes, etc.

      • Husky73

        Dr. Fauci– a world renown scientist– fervently disagrees with you……MAGA = Make Another Groundless Accusation

        • 1coolguy

          Please send us all the link

          • Husky73

            Pat Chun has a link for you.

      • art thiel

        Coolguy, you cannot be oblivious to the mountain of evidence that tells all of us that death is not the only consequence. There’s the misery of experience for many victims and their families, the lingering maladies for survivors, and the huge toll on the health care system.

        I know you’re not stupid. So you are choosing to ignore the truth. If what I said isn’t the truth, you shouldn’t go to a doctor again, because they’ll tell you the same thing. Maybe you’ll put your trust in a faith healer.

  • 1coolguy

    Not playing the Dawgs is best for the lowly Cougs – “Bow down to Washington!!!” lives in every Cougs’ mind, haha