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BYU indefinitely postpones football media day, responds to cancellation of rivalry game with Utah

Cougars are ‘actively working’ to replace Utes, others on 2020 schedule even as more questions emerge over the viability of playing college football this fall in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic

BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, (pictured on monitors), talks with host Dave McCann on BYUTV during the BYU football media day in the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Friday, June 22, 2018. This year’s BYU football media day is indefinitely postponed.
BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, (pictured on monitors), talks with host Dave McCann on BYUTV during the BYU football media day in the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Friday, June 22, 2018. This year’s BYU football media day is indefinitely postponed.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

PROVO — The announcement came out just after 7 p.m. Monday, and was the latest sign that the 2020 college football season is in serious jeopardy, at least for the independent BYU Cougars.

Next week’s virtual BYU football media day has been postponed until further notice, according to a media advisory from the school.

Again.

After all, it is hard to talk about a season that might not happen.

The postponement is not a big surprise considering BYU lost five games from its 2020 schedule last week, including all four in September. The Cougars had originally planned to conduct it on June 18, but the coronavirus pandemic forced its delay to July 21.

“A future date for the event will be announced once determined,” BYU’s announcement said, tersely.

BYU isn’t alone; the Atlantic Coast Conference said Monday it was indefinitely postponing its virtual media days set for next week as well.

Also late Monday, BYU responded to a Deseret News request for a response to the Pac-12’s cancellation last Friday of the BYU-Utah rivalry game scheduled for Sept. 3 and two other Cougars matchups with that league — at Arizona State on Sept. 19 and at Stanford on Nov. 28.

“BYU is actively working on a variety of scheduling alternatives since the announcements by the Big Ten (Thursday) and the Pac-12 to play conference-only games,” wrote BYU associate athletic director for communication Duff Tittle. “As the landscape continues to change and evolve, we will continue to work with other universities and our partners to create the best possible opportunities for the BYU athletic program, our student-athletes and our loyal fans.”

As has been reported by several outlets, BYU has declined to make public results of the testing for COVID-19 among its student-athletes, coaches and athletic support staff. Several programs around the country have been forced to shut down voluntary workouts due to the high number of positive cases.

BYU football players returned to campus facilities on June 1 for voluntary workouts.

Before the Utah game was canceled, the Cougars were planning to start their two-week period of 20 hours of countable athletically related activities with coaches as allowed by the NCAA next Tuesday, the day after the just-postponed media day.

That start, roughly six weeks from the opener, can’t happen until BYU finds a replacement game in September. As of now, the Cougars’ next scheduled game is Oct. 2 against Utah State at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

“Until related determinations are made for the start of the season and required activities, BYU student-athletes will continue to conduct voluntary workouts to prepare for the season,” BYU’s media advisory said.

What to do?

No doubt, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe has been working the phone lines night and day to find replacement games, all while knowing the entire season could get called off — or pushed to the spring.

One possibility is moving the Utah State game from early October to Sept. 3, 4 or 5, because the Aggies’ opener vs. Washington State in Logan was also canceled by the Pac-12’s directive.

Such a move would allow the Cougars and Aggies to begin the aforementioned countable activities as soon as next week. Of course, such an arrangement runs the risk of getting scuttled altogether if the Mountain West, of which USU is a member, follows the Pac-12 and Big Ten and goes the conference-games-only route.

Other FBS programs with openings in week 1 include Alabama, Oklahoma State, TCU, Colorado State, Hawaii, Bowling Green, Florida Atlantic and Kent State.