The clock showed all zeroes March 11th as the Washington State Cougars upset the Colorado Buffaloes in the opening round of the Pac-12 men's basketball tournament.
Fans and players soon learned this would be the Buffs final game in a year we all traded March Madness for March Sadness. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament was canceled due to COVID-19. For many athletes this meant the final chapter of their basketball book was left unwritten.
Now in August, an uncertain sports future still remains.
The Pac-12 announced Tuesday the conference had postponed all sports for the rest of the calendar year. Meaning the college basketball won't start until at least January of 2021.
While college football in the fall has been on shaky ground for months, Tad Boyle was surprised by the timing as well as the decision made Tuesday saying his reaction was,
“Shock and disbelief.”
Basketball season wasn't set to start until three months from now. So why postpone now?
"I don't understand why we we made a decision when we made the decision, August," Boyle said. "If it was made sometime in September, October, I get it. I don't understand what it was based on."
While the sports world has been attempting to navigate uncharted waters and the storms of change, some leagues have managed these times better than others. Major League Baseball has been in question since its first pitch with a plethora of COVID cases postponing games. Meanwhile, the NBA bubble is yet to be popped with no cases since play has resumed.
The NBA has shown that athletes can participate in a safe environment with the right logistics. This feat is more complex however in college sports than it would be in the professional ranks.
“We're not gonna replicate the NBA, we don't have the resources to do that. And right now we don't have the testing capable capabilities to do that, you know, I don't know what our testing capabilities will be in November and December, but I know right now we're not able to replicate the NBA bubble,” said Boyle.
While football is out till spring, Boyle believes that a full basketball season could potentially have been salvaged.
“After the week of Thanksgiving, there's about a four to six week period of time in the calendar where the college campuses in the Pac-12 are going to be the safest place that our student-athletes can be in terms of basketball because everybody else goes home, we're all by ourselves …” said Boyle.
“We've had zero issues from June the 7th to today. And we've been tested, multiple times, coaches and staff. So you can successfully operate now. We've followed the rules of our doctors, we've been very slow to phase into contact playing basketball. But we've been able to do it, and we've been able to do it successfully now. But I believe that from Thanksgiving through Christmas, which is normally a time that we're playing basketball anyway. It could have been played, but that option now is off the table.”
Regardless of the ifs, ands, or buts, Pac-12 basketball will remain on ice until it is hopefully defrosted this winter. Colorado looks to build on what for the most part was a successful year when basketball season finally tips off.
The Buffs were ranked 13 out of a potential 18 weeks last season despite losing their final five games. With McKinley Wright returning and the additions of senior transfer Jeriah Horne as well as incoming freshman Dominique Clifford, the Buffs could build on Tad Boyle’s success.
Boyle has gone 210-134 in his 10 seasons as Colorado’s head coach. Despite not having a season to play till next year, Boyle has been winning the recruiting game by adding key pieces such as top 60 recruits, Quincy Allen and Lawson Lovering who will join the Buffs in the 2021-22 season which hopefully will represent a return to a normal schedule and less turbulent landscape across college sports.