BY Art Thiel 12:18PM 12/09/2020

Virus hits Huskies football; UO game in jeopardy

An uptick in COVID-19 cases caused Washington to pause football practice Wednesday, and threatens the Saturday game in Eugene against Oregon, as well as next week.

The remainder of the Huskies football season is in jeopardy. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

COVID-19 has made inroads into the University of Washington football team, enough that all team activities were paused Wednesday, and put the rest of the already brief season in jeopardy.

A notice from UW athletics was sent out Wednesday morning that an increase in positive tests has occurred, stating the program will undergo additional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

The 3-1 Huskies travel to Eugene Friday to play Oregon (3-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday that was supposed to decide the North Division winner for the Pac-12 Conference championship game Dec. 18. If the game isn’t played, UW would win the division by default via highest winning percentage.

Washington has already had its Nov. 7 “opener” at Cal and the Nov. 27 Apple Cup at Washington State canceled because of outbreaks in those programs as virus cases surged nationally to levels unprecedented in the pandemic. Any chance to make up a game with anyone resides in the Dec. 18-19 weekend, which is unscheduled except for the title game.

There has been no move yet to extend the season, although the hope that a Pac-12 team might be in the four-team CFP hunt is all but over. USC (4-0) and Colorado (3-0) remain undefeated and ranked, but aren’t credible with so few games played.

A source told the Seattle Times that results of a Wednesday round of PCR testing won’t be known until Thursday morning, when a decision will be made. The football program has refused to disclose the names or the number of players affected, or whether cases are positive tests or close contacts with players who are positive.

After the 31-26 loss to Stanford, redshirt junior wide receiver Ty Jones let slip the fact that the roster has been disrupted, saying, “It’s tough when we got guys coming out (of the lineup) due to coronavirus.”

Regarding the athletics department as a whole, UW reported Dec. 2 five active positive cases. At the time, 5,607 PCR tests had been given since athletes began returning to campus June 15. Fifty-six positive cases were reported for an infection rate of  0.99 percent.

Notable absences Saturday included LBs Ryan Bowman and Cooper McDonald, WR Puka Nacua and Terrell Bynum and QB Ethan Garbers. Bynum appeared to have sustained a hand injury in the previous game.

When asked Saturday about virus impacts on his team, coach Jimmy Lake said, “Just like the whole country, we’re all dealing with issues, whether it’s injuries or the pandemic, and we’ll continue to deal with that for the rest of the season.”

The conference has set a minimum participation standard per team of  53 scholarship players, including one quarterback, seven offensive linemen and four defensive linemen. That is what has stopped numerous games. WSU coach Nick Rolovich reported after the Cougars opener than his roster had 32 players unavailable, but didn’t offer numbers about which were due to the virus, injuries or suspensions.

If the test reporting Thursday confirms that the outbreak continues and the Huskies lack sufficient players, the team’s participation in a game the following weekend is in jeopardy too. Current guidelines from King County health officials, which are being followed by UW, recommend a 14-day quarantine for close contacts as well as positive tests.

That likely would mean the end of Huskies season at four games.




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  • DaveinSeattle

    It will be terrible (but par for the 2020 course) if this game is canceled. I don’t see anything in your initial report here, Art, but I’m assuming if the game can’t be played, and Oregon can’t find another Pac-12 opponent, then the Huskies win the North? That is going to lead to some SERIOUS whining by Duck fans (and they would have a point), but I don’t see another way to settle the matter.

    Of course, if the UW is unable to play the following weekend as well, that really screws things up. Would Oregon then take UW’s place in the championship game? Do the 2020 rules even cover this scenario? What a mess! Maybe they should just name the virus the 2020 Pac-12 champion and call it good. As a friend said to me back in April, “In the end, the virus wins — it just does.” Oh well, it was nice to have a little Husky football this year — better than nothing!

    • 1coolguy

      Read Art’s 3rd paragraph

    • art thiel

      I wrote that the Huskies would win by default. That’s how the rules were written that all schools accepted. No whining.

      There is also a provision that says if teams play four or fewer games, the division format is tossed and the league’s two best records play for the title. That would help resolve the same problem is the South Division.

      • DaveinSeattle

        My fault for reading/skimming too fast, looking for terms like “conspiracy theories” and “outrage” — my history with Ducks fans leads me to believe that kind of whining is as inevitable as death, taxes, and Trump tweets about so many things being “terribly UNFAIR.” ;-)

    • Archangelo Spumoni

      Mr. Dave
      Think there’s some whining upcoming in the Pac-12? Please check out the turmoil surrounding the not-to-be-played Michigan/Ohio State tilt. YIKES those fans are IRATE and the conspiracy freaks have a target-rich environment. The Harbaugh haters are especially cranked up.

      Far more than the conspiracy folks in the Pac-12.

  • jafabian

    I was hoping the Huskies would be the one PAC12 team to go the season without any players due to COVID19 but admittedly that was wishful thinking. Hope UW has it under control and the ones involved will be fine.

    • art thiel

      Everyone’s entitled to wishes. But starting the season into the teeth of the storm was destined to largely fail.

  • Parts

    Duck fan chiming in here, our boys had control of their fate but lost two critical games. If this causes the Huskies to win the north, I’m not happy, but fair play, congrats Huskies, we’ll see you next year (not holding out too much hope for hoops).

    • Archangelo Spumoni

      I have to admit that this year’s *ivil *ar game was thoroughly entertaining. Some of the best games I have seen in 60+ years of watching college football are *ivil *ar games.
      The weirdest thing EVER for this upcoming bowl season will be the Rose Bowl with no fans there. More than weird.
      Best of luck to the Ucks!

      • Quackhead

        Agree about this year’s “ivil ar” game, despite the varmints emerging victorious. Also miss seeing the Apple Cup, and ‘natch the Ducks/Huskies cancellation hurts. Love college football, but best to be safe.
        Hey: there’s a movement to replace the “ivil ar” (that quacked me up) with the Platypus Bowl, which I think would be great. If nothing else, it’ll save us all from tripping over our typewritten tongues with asterisks!
        Here’s to everyone’s health going forward!

      • Parts

        The game formerly known as the civil war game was highly entertaining. Even though I found the end to be disappointing .

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  • Kirkland

    This makes the Ivy League’s decision to cancel all fall and winter sports look pretty smart. Of course, athletics aren’t a big deal there, so it’s apples to oranges compared with the Power Five football schools.

  • Husky73

    And……….NO GAME. Just end this season of despair.