Analysis: It’s time for BYU football to answer some difficult questions after Army game postponed, likely canceled, due to COVID-19

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake celebrates a touchdown as BYU and USU play at Maverik Stadium in Logan on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. Sitake starts his fifth season in Provo on Sept. 7, 2020, when the Cougars meet Navy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Cougars are scheduled to host Troy on Sept. 26, but a tweet by Army athletic director Mike Buddie could be interpreted as calling into question BYU’s handling of players who tested positive for the coronavirus

PROVO — Optics go a long way in this day and age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, and in the case of BYU having to postpone (read: cancel) its football game set for Sept. 19 against Army, the optics aren’t good for the Cougar football program.

Whether the postponement will have a lasting impact on the viability of the Cougars’ season remains to be seen. News releases from both programs made clear it was BYU’s fault, saying a “small number COVID-19 tests results and the resulting tracing exposures within the BYU football program” is the reason why the game was shelved.

No matter how one looks at it, however, it can’t be viewed as a positive development in Provo, which suddenly has a ranked team in town for the first time since 2018. If Army officials saw those social media posts of social gatherings and parties in Utah County the past two weekends, they probably weren’t amused.

Bad optics, even if no BYU football players were present. The dance parties, presumably filled by BYU students not wearing face coverings, certainly have BYU’s administration alarmed.

1/ Thx to all who’ve helped keep campus safe this week. We’re encouraged so many are following requirements on campus. However, we’re concerned w/ reports & videos circulating about off-campus activities. Behavior this weekend could make or break our ability to remain on campus.

  Watch live: Lone Peak hosting Corner Canyon highlights Thursday night high school football

— BYU (@BYU) September 4, 2020

On the football side, the question has to be asked: Have the Cougars been irresponsible, maybe even reckless, in the way they handled the coronavirus?

And what effect will that have on the attitudes of future opponents scheduled to visit LaVell Edwards Stadium, beginning Sept. 26 when Troy is slated as the Cougars’ home opener?

Some answers might come Monday when coach Kalani Sitake and a few “select players” are made available to the media via a Zoom video teleconference. But if Sitake sticks to his his standard operating procedure regarding questions about off-the-field issues, he will defer those to athletic director Tom Holmoe.

And Holmoe rarely talks to the local media. His task of finding additional opponents might have gotten a whole lot more difficult.

Army athletic director Mike Buddie is talking, however.

The second-year AD made a post on Twitter Sunday morning, ostensibly asking for an opponent to fill BYU’s shoes this Saturday, that some interpreted as a subtle shot at BYU, maybe even a little passive-aggressive. Other BYU fans laughed it off as an attempt at humor, a mock dating profile.

You be the judge:

“Undefeated, COVID negative college football team from NY (Army) looking for like-minded, disciplined team for a date next Saturday … must also be COVID negative! Twitter, do your thing!”

Undefeated, COVID negative college football team from NY looking for …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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