BC — happily — opts out of bowl game

BOSTON (AP) — Boston College, which managed to escape the worst of the coronavirus outbreak and the schedule and roster shuffling that has affected so many other college football teams, is passing on the opportunity to play in a bowl so players can spend Christmas with their families.

BC is the first school to forego the postseason because of the pandemic.

“A lot of these young men haven’t hugged their loved ones since June,” athletic director Pat Kraft said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. “I’m very, very, very proud of them and the sacrifices they’ve made.”

Meanwhile, four more major college football games scheduled for Saturday — including two with ranked Big 12 teams — were canceled, bringing the total to 10 for this week. No. 13 Oklahoma will not play at West Virginia because of COVID-19 issues with the Mountaineers. No. 23 Texas paused its football activities, calling off the season finale at Kansas.

And the 10th-ranked Duke men’s basketball team said it will not play any more nonconference games this season.

BC was arguably the most successful team in the country at navigating the COVID-19 outbreak, with one positive test all season — and that was in the final week. The Eagles (6-5, 5-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) played all 11 scheduled games, with just one of them postponed just one day — because of shuffling elsewhere in the ACC.

“What we did with COVID was bigger in my opinion than any game we could have won,” said coach Jeff Hafley, who was in his first year at BC. “I wish we could play every Saturday. But I don’t have to sit in a dorm room by myself.”

But Hafley said he could sense the strain of the unusual season on his players and called together his “leadership council” — one representative from every position group — to get a sense of how the team felt.

Together, they decided to pull the plug.

“When (linebacker Max Richardson) told the team that they’re going home to see their families, it was an uproar,” Hafley said. “At that moment I knew 100% it was the right decision.”