This story was published in the Sept. 14, 2001, edition of the Lewiston Tribune.
All major college football games this week were called off Thursday, nullifying decisions Washington State and Idaho had made to cling to their schedules.
Although the NCAA delivered no edict on the matter, the Southeastern and Big 12 conferences directed members to cancel or postpone their games in the wake of terrorist attacks in the eastern United States. Other schools followed suit.
As a Big 12 school, Colorado was forced to postpone (or possibly cancel) its game Saturday at WSU. Later, Idaho became one of the last Division I schools to give way, announcing a joint decision with I-AA member Montana to postpone their contest Saturday at Missoula.
The Vandals and Grizzlies might play Nov. 24 if Montana fails to make the I-AA playoffs, or if those playoffs are delayed a week to accommodate such reschedulings.
The Cougars, however, may be out of luck. Colorado plays Nebraska on Nov. 23, and the Big 12 championship game is scheduled for Dec. 1. Even if the Buffaloes don’t qualify for the title game, they are evidently obliged to keep that week open on their schedule, according to WSU officials.
The cancellation raises questions about bowl eligibility, which normally requires six wins. But WSU athletic director Jim Sterk said he has heard preliminary indications that “teams would not be penalized for the inability to conduct games this weekend.” So a 5-5 record might be sufficient.
Washington State and Idaho had announced plans Wednesday of playing their games. At the time, WSU coaches and players had seemed enthusiastic about the game, but coach Mike Price struck a different tone after Thursday’s cancellation.
“Emotionally it would have taken a lot out of me and our players to have played this game, and to have come back and played a conference opponent the next week,” he said.
The Cougars play California on Sept. 22 at Pullman.
Colorado would have been only the second or third member of a top-flight conference ever to play a nonleague game against the Cougars in Pullman.
“That was almost a dream for me and for Cougars everywhere — to play Colorado in Pullman,” Price said.
After the terrorist attacks, though, “it was just a game,” the coach said. “There was no way we could have had that same feeling, of cheering and running out onto that field.”
The Idaho-Montana game was one of the last contests to be postponed because transportation was not a problem. Idaho had planned to travel by bus to Missoula, and intends to do the same for its game Sept. 22 at Washington.
There is yet no guarantee that next weekend’s games will be contested.
Idaho athletic director Mike Bohn said the sway of opinion, on whether to proceed with games, changed from Wednesday to Thursday.
“I worked eight years at the Air Force Academy and I believe I learned a great deal about patriotism and pride in our country,” he said. “I visited with some of the people there (Wednesday) and they were 100-percent supportive of what we were doing (playing the game).
“We believed we did the right thing then, just as we believe we are doing the right thing now. It’s such a fluid situation to monitor. We are all proud Americans and want to do everything right.”