Mountain West finalizes decision: UW to play 10 games
LARAMIE -- Ten games is better than none, huh?
The Mountain West Conference announced Wednesday evening that the league's football programs will play 10 games during the regular season -- eight in conference and the option of two non-conference tilts.
The league also announced that the fall sports schedule will begin the week of Sept. 26, and the conference title game will take place Dec. 5, 12 or 19.
" ... The modified fall structure as presently configured allows flexibility and time for our athletic programs to be in the best possible position to play collegiate sports this season," MW Commissioner Craig Thompson said Wednesday in a prepared statement. "There is still a lot of work to be done and many important decisions to be made. Today’s announcement provides a path forward as we navigate the weeks ahead.”
This maneuvering, of course, is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league issued a press release Wednesday that outlined the nature of the situation: "Should further modifications become necessary, including delay or cancellation of competition, the MW Board of Directors is prepared to do so."
Scheduling options are still under consideration for the member institutions, according to the MWC. Brett McMurphy of Stadium.com, earlier in the day Tweeted that sources told him the two-game consideration for the non-conference season are due to the ongoing Commander-in-Chief series between league member Air Force and Army and Navy.
So, what does this all mean for Wyoming?
For one, the Cowboys will have to remove a non-conference game from their schedule. Currently, they have three matchups: Weber State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Ball State. Utah dropped off in early July when the Pac 12 went to a conference-only schedule.
UW is slated to play Sept. 26 at Ball State in Muncie, Ind. The Mid-American, the conference the Cardinals compete in, has yet to lay out its plan for returning.
The MAC is expected to have its plan laid out Thursday.
Louisiana-Lafayette has the green light from the Sun Belt Conference to play up to four non-conference games. Wyoming was supposed to travel south Sept. 12. That date would obviously have to change.
Weber State, Wyoming's original opening day opponent, is still in limbo as it waits for word from the Big Sky Conference. Some FCS conferences have already cancelled their seasons.
What does that mean for fans in the stands?
Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman said during a virtual town hall meeting this week that there's zero chance War Memorial Stadium will be at capacity this season, adding attendance could be limited to "20 to 35 percent."
The bigger number, that equates to roughly 10,000 fans.
"We’ve got multiple plans and have had conversations with the state department of health, the governor’s office, our board of trustees, our doctors and the NCAA doctors," Burman told 7220sports.com in early June. "As long as there is not a vaccine, we have to be comfortable with some level of risk. The only way to be absolutely safe is to not play. At present, we are planning to play and have access for all season-ticket holders. We are going to try to move some of them. A couple of sections are very crowded. We are going to ask them to move to spread them out a little bit. They can go back to that seat the following year."
What about students and visiting fans?
"We average roughly 3,000 students per game," Burman said. "We will reduce that and the rest of the stadium 50 percent. We are hoping to grow it every week ... Things could change dramatically. But that’s kind of what we are thinking. It will be very restricted. We aren’t giving many tickets to visiting fans and they aren’t going to give us many, I would suspect."
Wyoming is scheduled to begin fall camp Friday in Laramie.
"... We must stay vigilant in the weeks ahead, so that we can continue in a positive direction," Burman said.