The Mid-American Conference has built a reputation on producing wild football games, with unpredictable comebacks and finishes.
The conference itself announced its own type of comeback on Friday.
The MAC officially joined the rest of the college football world by returning to competition.
Seven weeks after announcing the cancelation of the fall season, the MAC Council of Presidents, on the recommendation of the Medical Advisory Panel, voted on Friday to unanimously to resume the fall football season.
The conference’s Friday tweet said it all, “MACtion is Back.”
“The Council of Presidents has been having fulsome discussions with our Mid-American Conference medical advisors,” said Council of Presidents Chair and University at Buffalo president Dr. Satish Tripathi in a release. “Throughout these discussions, we have underscored that the health and safety of our student-athletes, and our entire Mid-American Conference university community, is paramount. As a result, our Conference’s medical advisors have established comprehensive protocols and procedures to safeguard our student-athletes during practice and competition. We appreciate the effort of the many medical professionals who have contributed to this sound plan to initiate the fall football season.”
The MAC was the first conference to entirely cancel its fall season because of COVID-19, instead planning on moving the fall seasons to the spring.
While the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West Conferences followed suit, the rest of the major Division I conferences decided to push forward.
The Big 10 was the first conference to reverse course, and by the end of the last week, the MAC was the last holdout before announcing its decision to return.
“I am pleased to inform our student athletes, coaches, and fans, that the Mid-American Conference will resume the fall football season,” said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher. “Our decisions, in August and again today, have been guided by an overriding concern for the well-being of the student athletes, institutions, and the community at large. Our medical advisory group, presidents, directors of athletics, and others, have worked hard to develop a plan that provides the opportunity for student athletes to compete. We will be diligent in monitoring the dynamic health environment across the Conference footprint and the country.”
A six-game conference-only football schedule will begin on Wednesday, Nov. 4. The MAC Football Championship game will be held on Dec. 18 of 19.
Full schedules for each team will be released at a later date.
“Ohio University has worked diligently to safely open campus to more students in phase 2 this fall,” President M. Duane Nellis said. “With today’s decision by MAC Presidents to begin our football season later this fall, the University will take all necessary precautions to ensure our student-athletes are complying with CDC and state guidelines to ensure their health and safety.”
According to the conference’s release, a COVID-19 testing program will be implemented, requiring four antigen tests per week with all positive tests needing confirmation with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Any student athlete with a positive test will enter a cardiac screening protocol.
Student athletes will be tested four times per week, begining Monday, October 5.
The conference cited the availability of tests and timely test results, as well as changes and improvements of testing protocols as one of the main reasons for the reconsideration of August’s decision.
“We appreciate the leadership shown by Commissioner Steinbrecher and the Mid-American Conference’s medical advisors in developing a plan that will allow us to compete safely this fall,” said Ohio Director of Athletics Julie Cromer. “I know Coach (Frank) Solich and our student-athletes are ready to take on the challenges at hand as we prepare to embark on an extraordinary season.”
There will be no general public at the conference’s games, or tailgating.
The Bobcats have been chasing the program’s first conference title since 1968, and will get the opportunity under 16h-year head coach Frank Solich to continue that quest in 2020.
“Our players are excited about the opportunity to play once more,” said Solich. “We know there are challenges ahead, but we hope to try to meet those challenges. We’re ready to forge ahead with a positive attitude and make the best of the situation at hand. A lot of people have worked very hard at getting us to this point while keeping the safety of the players a top priority. Our players have always embraced challenges and made the best of the opportunities presented to them.”
Men’s and Women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey and volleyball are still tentatively scheduled to return in the spring.