On Aug. 18, Southern Miss Football released a new schedule for the 2020 fall season after another conference’s recent cancellation left the team with only 11 games on its schedule.
The new schedule comes after the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) postponed its fall sports season, leaving the Southern Miss Golden Eagles with an empty slot for the Sep. 19 contest against Tennessee Tech.
“After careful deliberation, weighing all the factors as presented and given the current uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the OVC Board of Presidents voted to postpone the Conference’s fall sports to the spring,” OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche said in an official press release.
This is the second time Southern Miss has released a revised schedule. Initially, the team was scheduled to play a home game versus Jackson State University (JSU) on Sep. 19. After the Southwestern Athletic Conference suspended its fall season and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) announced intentions to only play intra-conference games, Southern Miss had to reschedule.
The first revised schedule replaced JSU with an OVC member, Tennessee Tech, and added a seventh home game versus Tulane to replace the prior scheduled game versus Auburn University. When OVC postponed its season, Southern Miss had to find a replacement for a twelfth game again.
“We knew we had a 12 game schedule, but we also knew there was a chance that, for a number of reasons, one conference or another might choose to not play and we might end up with a hole in our schedule, so the key really was to continue conversations with people across the country,” Southern Miss Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain said.
The new schedule moves the matchup versus Louisiana Tech to Sep. 19. The replacement to Tennessee Tech will be the University of North Alabama, a member of the Big South Conference. The game will be on Nov. 7, which was previously the Golden Eagles’ scheduled Bye Week. The team’s Bye Week will now be after the first game.
After a week of numerous cancelations in college football, there were fewer options for a replacement to Southern Miss’s twelfth game. With the OVC’s postponement, all 13 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools had made some level of restrictions on their seasons.
However, some FCS conferences, including the Big South Conference, is still letting its football teams play up to four non-conference games.
For the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), 54 of the 130 schools have postponed their seasons. Last week, the Big Ten Conference and Pacific-12 Conference became the first in the Power 5 to cancel their seasons over concerns of COVID-19.
McClain says that scheduling has been a challenge, but that it worked out for the school.
“With football, if you have an opening two or three years away, you get nervous about it because you need somebody to fill in, so it’s a very unusual set of circumstances for everyone associated with college football given this scenario,” McClain said. “We were fortunate to find opponents that fit into what we needed.”
As far as how players are concerned over the changes in the schedule, senior quarterback Jack Abraham says that the team is not worried.
“We see it, but at the end of the day, we’ll just [go] out there and play,” Abraham said.