Moos keeps options open as Nebraska aims to replace canceled game
Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos is keeping his options open when it comes to picking up a 12th football game.
But he’s definitely committed to making it happen, he told reporters Wednesday in addressing the cancellation of Saturday night’s home game against Akron because of widespread and sustained lightning.
He said there’s a standing verbal agreement for the schools to attempt to reschedule the game for Saturday, Dec. 1, if neither team is in its conference championship game.
“We kind of left it verbally that we’d like to play the game,” Moos said.
Akron athletic director Larry Williams echoed those sentiments, writing in an email to the Journal Star, “It broke my heart to tell our student-athletes we could not play this past weekend, but we hope we still can make the game work at the end of the season.”
Moos added, “To me, that would be the most-solid option.”
However, Nebraska is in the early stages of looking into other options for a 12th game, including potentially playing on its bye week of Oct. 27. Moos said NU has looked primarily at FCS schools for an opponent on that date, but conversations are still in the preliminary stage.
He does know he wants it to be a home game, as opposed to playing at a neutral site. As for the potential to play Iowa State, which also had a game canceled Saturday, Moos said there have been no discussions with the Cyclones.
“It’s a little premature to say which direction we’re going, but we do want to play 12 games, we do want to be bowl-eligible, we do want to extend the season and get the practices and all that comes with preparing for a bowl game,” he said.
Meanwhile, Moos also addressed a matter on the minds of many Husker fans: There will be no refund for tickets purchased for Saturday’s canceled game, he said, as is stated on the back of NU tickets. Instead, tickets will be reissued for a 12th game, should one be scheduled for either Oct. 27 or Dec. 1.
“We just sent (an email) message to our fans to hold tight in regards to what I’m talking about,” Moos said. “Tickets would be re-issued regardless of how we’re going to go.”
The email to ticket holders said “fans who purchased tickets through a third party need to contact that provider for answers regarding their ticket policies.”
As for Nebraska’s game contract with Akron, NU has not yet paid the Zips the $1.17 million the schools agreed upon. Per the contract, no payment is due until March.
“We discussed (the contract) just briefly,” Moos said. “I think at the end of the day, for sure, those (Akron) expenses are going to be covered. We just have to see if that’s the team we’re going to be playing.”
Moos said he and Williams, “who’s a classy guy and a good AD,” had a “very good dialogue” as the events of Saturday night progressed.
Moos said it ultimately was left up to Akron as to whether to play at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, a game that could’ve been televised by FS1.
“Underlying all of my considerations and decisions Saturday evening was our responsibility to ensure the care and well-being of our student-athletes,” Williams wrote in his email. “In fact, membership of the NCAA thoughtfully adopted within the last year extensive measures to protect and promote student-athlete well-being, including the CARA package that includes measures designed to avoid sleep deprivation and ensure days off.”
Early in discussions with Akron, Moos said, Williams was confident his team would be able to secure hotel rooms for Saturday night. Akron had stayed in suburban Omaha the previous evening. But as the night progressed, it became clear Akron wouldn’t be able to find enough rooms in one place to house the football team under one roof.
That’s when dorm rooms became an option. Nebraska, which stays at the Cornhusker Marriott the night before home games, had secured vacant dorm rooms on the UNL campus for its players Saturday night. When it became clear that Akron couldn’t find hotel rooms, Nebraska officials offered those dorm rooms to the Zips, Moos said. It appeared there would be hotel ballroom space available to provide a pregame meal for Akron players in the morning.
That, however, meant Nebraska’s players would have had to scatter to their own homes, and Akron’s players would be split between two dorms and “would at best have had less than five hours of sleep before playing a high-level football game,” Williams wrote.
“We appreciated the effort involved in trying to arrange dorm rooms for our student-athletes that in theory might have saved some travel time; however, the logistics and the noise abatement and security (I remember how rambunctious my college roommates were) concerns connected to that option made it untenable,” Williams wrote. “Actually, I can’t imagine that Nebraska would accept that option from Michigan if this situation happened there.”
All in all, Moos said his staff handled matters well, considering it was the first time Nebraska had to cancel a game because of weather.
However, “As we’ve dissected our protocol on situations like this, we’re modifying it,” he said. “From now on, I think it’d be best if I came upstairs (to the press box) and we had a little makeshift press conference. Just to make this clear, I’ve always prided myself on being accessible to the media. I think I’ve proven that in the 10 months I’ve been here.
“I wasn’t hiding under the bed. However, I am afraid of lightning,” he said with a smile.