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Sacramento State opts out of Big Sky spring football season

Sacramento State opts out of Big Sky spring football season

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento State has elected to opt out of the Big Sky Conference 2021 spring football season the school announced in a press release Thursday morning.

"After thoughtful deliberation we have determined that it is in the best interest of both our student-athletes and our football program to opt out of a possible spring football season," Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor said in the release. "Our concern regarding the effects of a short turnaround and recovery time from a spring season to a fall season, in our opinion, were too big of a health risk. Obviously, we are disappointed in not having a football season this year. But we are already striving and preparing for the 2021 fall season."

"I agree with Coach (Taylor)," Sacramento State President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen said in the release. "It is disappointing. COVID-19 has brought many disappointments, and we are sad. But postponing our fall season due to COVID, and opting out of spring due to the truncated season and the risks it could cause to our players' wellbeing, are not the biggest disappointments brought on by the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from this disease. We want to play football, but we want — we need — to keep the Hornet family safe."

Traditionally the 13-team Big Sky plays a fall season, but because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic a spring season was decided upon. Montana State and Montana are members of the Big Sky Conference. 

The Big Sky has not announced a regular season spring football schedule. However, teams such as Montana and Montana State, have officially begun to practice for the season. Montana had its first official practice in 208 days last Wednesday. 

Montana coach Bobby Hauck told The Missoulian and 406mtsports.com the Griz are focusing on improving as a team as they await the announcement of the spring schedule. 

“If we have a spring season, we’re going to do our best to be our best then,” Hauck said. “I don’t know that that’s attainable in the current (environment). I mean, things have to change for that to happen.

“We’re starting to run out of time to maximize that, but it’s still attainable. So, we’ll see. If we play a spring season, we’re going to try to win.”

The Montana State Bobcats held a fall scrimmage on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium without fans, who had the option to watch online.

“I think this kind of brought us together even more,” MSU running back Jaharie Martin told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, “and will be able to give us a leg up in the spring.”

The Hornets, who were the Big Sky co-champions in 2019, and the rest of the teams in the Big Sky would have to play a spring season before the FCS playoffs. Those playoffs would run from late April and culminate with the championship game, scheduled to be played between May 14-16. The 2021 season is scheduled to begin on the final weekend of August and will feature 11 games before the standard 24-team playoff. A team advancing to the championship game in both seasons would play 26 games in less than 12 months the Sacramento State release noted. 

"Student-athlete well-being is the driving factor in every decision we make," Sacramento State Director of Athletics Mark Orr said in the news release. "In consultation with our health administrators and football coaching staff we have made the decision to not compete during a spring football season."

Sacramento State will continue to prepare for the traditional autumn season and maintain scheduled practices and team activities throughout the 2020-21 school year the release noted. 

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