One of the first college football games of the season was in real danger of being canceled
UNC is supposed to host FAMU in its season opener, but the game was in serious doubt
On Saturday, the 2022 college football season will begin for 22 teams across the country.
It was almost only 20.
According to a report by ESPN’s Pete Thamel, North Carolina’s season opener against Florida A&M, an FCS program in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, was in real danger of being canceled.
According to ESPN sources, as of 12:20 p.m. Friday, FAMU — which is based in Tallahassee, Florida — hadn’t boarded its flight to North Carolina for a game that is expected to kick off at 6:15 p.m. MDT Saturday.
Sources: FAMU still hasn’t boarded a flight to North Carolina for their game at UNC tomorrow. There’s an expectation that FAMU would be playing shorthanded, as a significant amount of players – more than 10 – are facing eligibility issues. Expect a decision later today.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 26, 2022
The issue, per multiple reports, was that FAMU was too shorthanded to safely field a team.
According to reporting by Alison Posey — the sports director for ABC 27, based in Tallahassee — 20 FAMU players are ineligible to play, for myriad reasons, including but not limited to academics or transfer eligibility.
Just spoke with Florida A&M head football coach Willie Simmons. There are twenty players that are ineligible, be it to academics or transfer eligibility.— Alison Posey (@AlisonPosey14) August 26, 2022
He said only seven offensive lineman that can travel - that’s not enough to safely play a football game. https://t.co/ix3AnfgvLH
Per Posey, FAMU head coach Willie Simmons left the decision to play Saturday up to his players, and as later reported by both Thamel and Posey, the players elected to play the game despite having only seven available offensive linemen.
FAMU will play UNC this weekend, a school spokesman tells ESPN.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 26, 2022
Simmons told Posey that some of FAMU’s ineligible players are out for the season, while others are expected to miss four games, pending NCAA appeals.
UNC and FAMU are part of the Week 0 lineup that will kick off the 2022 college football season on Saturday.
Utah State will host UConn as part of the Week 0 slate, with other notable games including Nebraska vs. Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland, Wyoming at Illinois, Nevada at New Mexico State, and Vanderbilt at Hawaii.