Air Force’s football season has been pushed back at least three weeks, as the Mountain West announced an altered fall sports structure Wednesday.
The football season will begin Sept. 26 and consist of eight conference games and two optional nonconference contests, presumably allowing the Falcons to play Army and Navy. An Air Force spokesman could not confirm those would be the Falcons’ nonconference opponents Wednesday evening, but all indications point to that being the case.
This would wipe out the opening game against Duquesne, which had been scheduled for Sept. 5, and render moot the loss of the Sept. 19 game at Purdue.
The conference is moving all fall Olympic sports competitions to a conference-only model and, without a Mountain West tournament or championship, will determine champions by regular-season play.
A press release by the conference used the wording “the current plan,” in describing its changes, which included a conference football championship game to be held on one of three dates in December. The wording is important, as developments Wednesday suggested this might not be the last change.
Championships were canceled at the Division II and III levels but the top levels pushed off making a final determination until Aug. 21.
The Colorado Springs-based Mountain West also said fall competition in men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, swimming and diving, indoor track and field, softball and baseball has been canceled.
“The modified fall structure as presently configured allows flexibility and time for our athletic programs to be in the best possible position to play collegiate sports this season,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a prepared statement. “There is still a lot of work to be done and many important decisions to be made. Today’s announcement provides a path forward as we navigate the weeks ahead.”
Air Force football was to begin practice Friday. That will no longer be the case, but a new start date has not been announced.
The Mountain West did not release an updated football schedule Wednesday, and it is likely the order on Air Force’s schedule could change as it was initially set to host Boise State on Sept. 12 and will need to find a new date for that key game.
“It is important to point out that the health and safety of our cadet-athletes, coaches, staff and community continues to be our top priority at the academy and that is reflected in the Mountain West's decision today,” Air Force athletic director Nathan Pine said. “We support the move to delay the start of fall sports and while we empathize with our cadet-athletes and everyone involved in less opportunities to compete, we agree this is the best course of action today. Air Force will continue to work closely with the NCAA, Mountain West, and local public health officials in preparing for the fall. We will also continue to provide updates and additional information as available.”