LARAMIE — Wyoming’s football players ran the gamut of emotions Monday.
Anger. Shock. Devastation. Even some optimism and appreciation.
The Mountain West was the first Football Bowl Subdivision conference this week to officially call off the football season with its decision to postpone fall sports indefinitely. The league became just the second FBS conference to pull the plug on football in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic when it made the announcement Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, many of UW’s players have been on campus since June going through a combination of voluntary workouts and mandatory walkthroughs in anticipation of a fall season happening. And none of the Cowboys’ preparation had to be put on pause at any point since none of UW’s players or coaches tested positive for COVID-19 during their first round of testing.
So the reaction from players and athletic department administrators came swiftly once they got word the fall season was over before it started.
“This hurts,” tweeted Sheridan native Dontae Crow, a senior receiver. Crow included the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, a movement started on social media Sunday night among college football players nationwide in response to the Mid-American Conference’s (MAC) decision to cancel the season and reports that some of the Power Five conferences were planning on doing the same.
The Detroit Free Press reported Monday that the Big Ten had canceled its fall football season, but the MAC was still the only FBS league that had made it official before the Mountain West’s announcement. Multiple conferences at the Football Championship Subdivision level have also called off football in the fall.
“Did all that work since January 1st for this fall, and not being able to show the strides that we made as a team hurts,” redshirt freshman receiver Alex Brown tweeted.
Tweeted redshirt freshman safety Keonte Glinton, “Frustrating knowing all the work you put in just to not showcase it this fall, but I’m gonna control what i can control.”
Other players took issue with the reason for the Mountain West’s decision. The league said in a release that, in prioritizing the health and well-being of its student-athletes, it postponed fall sports because of “ongoing challenges with the effective mitigation and management of the COVID-19 virus in conjunction with athletic competition,” which quarterback Sean Chambers wasn’t buying.
“Saying because of safety concerns for players is a cop out,” Chambers tweeted. “There is many universities that put their players in a beyond safe environment for us to play football this fall. UWYO has done everything right since June 1st, and to (receive) news like this is a major blow to us.”
In a series of tweets, Chambers thanked athletic director Tom Burman, head football coach Craig Bohl and the rest of UW’s administration and coaches for “doing everything right and setting up a safe plan” for the football team. The redshirt sophomore also criticized what he perceived to be a lack of leadership from the NCAA, which left the decision of whether or not to play football this fall to each conference.
“It starts from the top with the (NCAA),” Chambers tweeted. “If there was any semblance of leadership we wouldn’t be in this mess. No direction or leadership lead us to a decision like this. Now us athletes have to reap the consequences that we don’t deserve.”
In response to Chambers’ tweet, freshman receiver Joshua Cobbs tweeted, “Don’t make no sense.”
Other players already had their eye on an uncertain future. The Mountain West left open the possibility of playing the season in the spring, though what exactly that might look like is uncertain.
“Regardless the path ... we move forward!!!” tweeted Levi Williams, who was set to compete with Chambers for the starting quarterback job before Monday’s news.
There’s also the question of what happens to each player’s eligibility if football isn’t played in the spring either, particularly for upperclassmen like Crow and defensive end Garrett Crall who have just one year left to play. They’re two of 11 seniors listed on UW’s roster.
“Wyoming, I love you!” Crall tweeted. “Like we say here at UW ... We are #OneWyoming and will always be #CowboyTough. Together, we will ALL get through this and be BETTER from it!”
Burman shared in the disappointment for UW’s players. Now that the decision has been made, though, he said the school’s focus is to do what it can to maintain all of the student-athletes’ physical and academic well-being.
“This will be a period of transition for our young men and women, and we want them to know that we are here to provide them the support they need to get through this time until they can return to competition,” Burman said in a statement.
Saying because of safety concerns for players is a cop out. There is many universities that put their players in a beyond safe environment for us to play football this fall. UWYO has done everything right since June 1st and to recieve news like this is a major blow to us. https://t.co/O8utyxnkix— Sean Chambers (@seanmat10) August 10, 2020
Other people’s actions and carelessness made it so me and my teammates can’t play this fall. Just because you aren’t personally affected by covid doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect any one else.— Jeremy Hollingsworth (@HollinJeremy25) August 10, 2020
Frustrating knowing all the work you put in just to not showcase it this fall, but I’m gonna control what i can control.— KG (@keonteglinton) August 10, 2020
Regardless the path... We move forward!!!— Levi H. Williams (@leviwilliamqb) August 10, 2020
Been playing football for 14 years straight. This just don’t feel real. We will be back and better next year, our grind won’t stop. Best believe that‼️👿— Charles Hicks (@_hicks5) August 11, 2020
Did all that work since January 1st for this fall, and not being able to show the strides that we made as a team hurts.— Alex Brown (@alexbrownn_9) August 10, 2020
My brothers and I are hurting right now, but we will overcome adversity and prosper. So what! Now what!— Skyler Miller (@SkylerMiller14) August 11, 2020
Our response will be stronger than any event we encounter! There’s no other group of men I would want to go to war with than @wyo_football. We’ll create an advantage in our circumstance as always. Proud of our men who bought in & killed it all summer, THE RIGHT WAY. Back 2 Work⛓— Eric Donoval (@edonoval) August 11, 2020
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.