It is frustrating enough knowing you’re not going to have a season.
But what is more irritating for college football players from the University of Maine and Husson University in Bangor is the fact that numerous schools across the country are playing now.
UMaine and Husson had their seasons moved to the spring because of response to the coronavirus pandemic by the state, schools and conferences. All the student-athletes are able to do this fall is practice and work out while adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.
“It is definitely different seeing other people playing football right now and we’re not,” Husson University senior captain Jake Cameron said. “But we just have to control what we can control. We still have the opportunity to practice and be with our teammates. We’re thankful for that and for the possibility that we’ll be able to play in the spring.”
UMaine senior Andre Miller of Old Town is confident things eventually will work out for the best.
“I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating, it’s more like we feel like we’re being left out,” he said.
Husson senior captain Frank Curran isn’t thrilled, but he is focused on making the most of the chance to practice.
“I’m definitely jealous of any team that can play football right now,” he said. “I want to put on the pads and hit someone.”
Mike Gerace, a junior for the Black Bears, is aggravated by the fact that 15 of the 124 teams in their Football Championship Subdivision are playing — even though only the spring games will count toward an NCAA playoff berth and championship.
The FCS is one notch below the Football Bowl Subdivision in which 90 of the 130 programs are playing this fall.
“It sucks because we could be playing right now,” Gerace said. “But, at the end of the day, the administration is making decisions in order to keep us safe. I can’t speak for every team in our [Colonial Athletic Association] conference but it is pretty controlled up here. We’ve been tested many times.”
Gerace said he misses the repetitive weekly routine of practicing in preparation for playing on Saturdays and the reward of winning.
“I like practice, running plays, and everything that leads up to the game,” Miller said. “You don’t have the same feeling just running and lifting. We’ve been doing that for a long time now.”
Husson senior Tyler Halls said he misses playing competitive football, especially the game-day atmosphere. That includes the team breakfast.
“Just that feeling of having your game day juices flowing [is special],” Curran said. “And I liked getting the whole team together as one unit on the sidelines, all dressed in the same colors.”
The road trips have always been a highlight for Cameron, who looks forward to the Friday night team dinner of chicken parmesan.
“The hardest part for me is not having those moments right now. It’s weird not being able to play,” he said.
Despite the disappointment, there have been some positives for the student-athletes. They will not be docked a year of NCAA eligibility if they play next spring.
Players at Division III schools such as Husson won’t lose a year as long as they don’t participate in more than five games, which the Eagles won’t.
Miller and the Husson trio all will return to school in the fall of 2021, so next spring will provide them with extra games — as long as they are able to play a full schedule next fall.
“I was relieved when they decided the spring season wasn’t going to be my [final] season,” Miller said.
“Being able to come back and play out my final year [next fall] is great,” Curran said. “It’s a blessing in disguise.”
The possibility of a spring season gives the student-athletes extra motivation, and the fall workouts should enable the teams to work on skills and build relationships.
Newcomers will have more time to learn the playbook and bond with their teammates without losing a year of eligibility.
“They will be able to gain experience and have an opportunity to prove themselves,” Gerace said.