A Fall Without Villanova Football Due to COVID-19

For the first time since 1985, Villanova will not have a football season. In July, the Colonial Atlantic Association, of which Villanova is a member, announced that its Board of Directors had voted to suspend all conference competition, in accordance with concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the Big East’s cancellation of fall sports as well, Villanova officially announced it would not be playing football this fall. 

This comes in spite of Villanova entering the season with a large amount of returning talent and carrying the expectation of being a true contender for the FCS national title. The Wildcats were coming off of a season in which they finished 9-4, with a 45-44 loss to Southeastern Louisiana in the first round of the FCS playoffs. However, they had one of the nation’s top offenses, which looked to be even better this year, along with an improved defense. 

Three fifth-year seniors on the team, Paul Grattan, Changa Hodge and Todd Summers, decided to transfer in the hopes of still playing a season and pursuing their NFL dreams. Grattan ended up at UCLA, which suspended its season days later. Hodge is now at Virginia Tech, with the football season planned to happen for the ACC. Finally, Summers ended up at Duquesne University, which also later postponed its season. Head coach Mark Ferrante said that he was committed to helping his fifth-year seniors find a place to finish their careers, even if not at Villanova.

“From our perspective, it’s more bitter than sweet,” Ferrante said. “But with all the guys, especially the fifth-year guys, I tried to lay out their options. I told them all, we don’t want any of you to transfer, but once it’s determined we’re not playing, if you find a place that is miraculously going to play, I’ll help you get there.”

As for the rest of the FCS, numerous other conferences have delayed their season to the spring or cancelled entirely. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference, Pioneer Football League, Northeast Conference and Missouri Valley Athletic Conference all announced that they would be postponed to the spring. 

Meanwhile, the Ivy League and Patriot League have cancelled their fall seasons and have not stated if they would try to play in the spring. 

The situation for FBS continues to evolve as well, with the Big Ten and PAC-12 both announcing they would be suspending their fall seasons. Outside the Power Five conferences, the MAC and the Mountain West Conference both stated they would postpone their seasons as well. 

This means that the remaining conferences that will try to play this fall are the ACC, SEC, Big 12, AAC, Sun Belt, Conference USA and independents Liberty, Army and BYU. Notre Dame announced it would participate within the ACC for the 2020 season. Independents UConn, UMass and New Mexico State all announced they would not play, and Old Dominion opted out of the Conference USA plan to play. 

Things continue to look different worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the world of sports is nearly unrecognizable. Without football on not just the Villanova campus but across the country, Saturday mornings will not be the same.