By Rich Mancuso/ thenyextra.com
“Unfortunate, we will play at some point”
And Joe Conlin, the head football coach at Fordham University hopes his football team will play at some point in 2020. Monday, due to the Patriot League’s decision not to engage in competition in the fall season, the 2020 Fordham University football season was suspended.
That decision hurts the coach and his student-athletes up at Rose Hill. But, similar to other major Division 1 NCAA football programs that have suspended conference play, some the entire season, the decision is based on the safety and concern of athletes and personnel.
There was no other option to suspend the season with that continued safety concern of COVID-19, though major sports leagues attempt a return to some type of normalcy by the end of this month.
Regardless, Fordham had cancelled their first four games that included a trip to Hawaii. Players were set to begin practice up at Rose Hill in a few weeks. Instead, a season of hope is on hold, and this will be the first fall without varsity football at Fordham since 1963,.
The first without any football since 1963 when the Rams competed at the club level from 1964-1969. The uncertainty of the coronavirus also has put fall semester classes on hold at the Rose Hill campus for the fall semester.
“They are keeping options for a spring season on the table and make decisions at a later date,” Conlin said.
The third season for Conlin and his Rams came with anticipation. Returning were 22 starters after going 4-8 overall last year, 2-4 in the conference.
“Essentially everybody from last year,” Conlin said as he continues to stay in contact with his coaches and players via Zoom.
A potential recruiting class for next year is also having an impact. The Rose Hill campus is off limits, and Conlin is conducting that new norm of recruitment via the Zoom conference call.
“It’s difficult, the aspect we don’t get them to campus, not having the ability to display one of our aspects,” he said.
He said about the season that was anticipated, “We felt great. We felt we were having a great off season. Very very frustrating. Would be on campus two weeks from tomorrow to start fall practice.”
Instead, the coach is at home. That’s okay for safety. But the job is not the same without that personal one-on-one approach with his players and coaching staff.
“We gave them some time to adjust,” Conlin commented about his roster for the 2020 Patriot League season. “Hope to be back on campus for the school year depending on what happens.”
There could be a spring season. And there may not be. That also depends on the status of this unknown virus that can be more perplexing than a coach making decisions on fourth and goal.
Of course this is a setback. The Rams will adjust as we all are to this new norm. But, when the fall approaches we all need some football. Also, the entire scope of the 2020 NCAA football season is up in the air.
“While it is disheartening to suspend our football season, I fully support the decision made by the Patriot League” said Fordham interim director of athletics Ed Kull. “As I’ve said before, the health and well being of our student-athletes is our number one priority.”
He said this was the necessary step to keep Fordham student-athletes, coaches, staff, and their department healthy.
“We must lead through these challenging times by minimizing the risk and potential exposure of harm to our student-athletes, that is my biggest concern.”
Yes, this is a setback. Conlin, though, as all in the sports community are more concerned with the health and safety issues at hand and we all want sports and that diversion.
However, the coronavirus does take precedence over sports. Those involved with high school and collegiate sports are also paying strict attention to the guidelines set forth by medical and government authorities.
COVID-19 has now taken a toll on a younger age group. The college campus community and intercollegiate athletics are at risk.
Conlin remains very optimistic about a vaccine that will work and be effective. The question remains, when will a vaccine be available and to what extent will it take to assure it works?
He’s a coach. The concern is for his student-athletes and at the same time there is concern for himself, his family, and an entire global community.
“I don’t know, you look closely what’s going around the country,” Conlin said. “The Patriot League made a very difficult but correct decision. The health of our student – athletes is number one.”
He said, football on a Saturday in the fall is a great feeling. Fordham was scheduled to open the home season up at Rose Hill, Saturday August 29th against Stony Brook University.
“Certainly will hit home,” Conlin said. “We should be playing. Should have been our home opener. Certainly will feel different but we have to be there for our student athletes.”
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