Big Sky opponents opt-out as the season nears

Raymond Lucas

Fans are a little over a month away from watching the Weber State Wildcats play their first football game since their loss to the James Madison Dukes in the FCS playoffs back on December 21, 2019. The ‘Cats will be looking to win their fourth straight Big Sky championship, while also hoping to notch the program’s first-ever national title.

Weber State lines up against Montana State University on Saturday. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)
Weber State lines up against Montana State University on Saturday. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

The expectations in Ogden remain the same, but in the Big Sky, things will look a little different. On Jan. 15, Portland State, Montana and Montana State opted out of playing against conference foes and will instead participate in a modified season in preparation for the 2021-22 fall season. Both Montana schools cited COVID-19 and weather conditions as reasons why they will not play a six-game schedule or participate in the playoffs.

Their reasoning incites a rising question for the upcoming spring season that likely won’t be answered until the fall, how safe is it for these teams to compete in two seasons in less than half a year?

This upcoming FCS spring season would feel odd. The biggest reason why is because a bunch of teams that normally kick off at the end of August are now doing so in February. Another reason is because out of the 127 programs, 27 of them have opted out. This leaves 100 teams — including WSU — that will compete for a national championship through a shortened season and then play in the fall.

No. 11, Jenks, catches the ball during their game Saturday. (Kelly Watkins / The Signpost)

As of right now, the Wildcats’ only opponent that needs replacing on the schedule is Montana State, who was set to play at Stewart Stadium on March 6. The Big Sky conference has not yet announced a new schedule in light of the changes.

Unless the entire schedule is changed, the Weber State Wildcats will kick off their season in Pocatello against the Idaho State Bengals on Feb. 27.