8.25 eku

It is a situation perfect for an overused sports-related cliche.

So ... pick your favorite.

Go big or go home.

Swing hard in case you hit it.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

And there’s so many, many more.

All of those worn-out phrases certainly could be used in reference to the plan the administration at Eastern Kentucky University released on Friday morning.

In an unprecedented move (during unprecedented times), the school dramatically pivoted away from the league it helped found and has been a member of for more than 70 years.

The Colonels will not play football against Ohio Valley Conference competition this season.

The OVC announced on Aug. 14 that all fall sports would be postponed because of COVID-19, with the hope of rescheduling them in the spring. The plan, however, did allow member schools to schedule up to four non-conference games in the fall.

EKU seemed on board with that — at first.

The Colonels re-configured their schedule to include trips to West Virginia, Marshall, Troy and The Citadel.

On Thursday evening, though, a cryptic message was sent out by EKU Director of Athletics Matt Roan on Twitter.

It featured a meme with the caption “I want to go home.”

With four games already on the schedule — which was the amount the OVC had approved — how could EKU add a home game?

It was clear what was going to happen.

On Friday morning, the announcement was indeed made.

The Colonels will play eight non-conference games this fall and opt out of a potential spring OVC season.

It’s an incredible gutsy move.

It’s also very risky.

Going rouge lets EKU grab some of the national spotlight while most of the rest of the Football Championship Subdivision waits to see what happens this spring.

It also allows a new coaching staff, led by Walt Wells, to create a reputation as a players-first program, much like John Calipari has done at Kentucky.

This schedule also includes three games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams that will net EKU a total of almost $1,000,000 in guaranteed payoffs.

There’s some potential pitfalls as well.

The Colonels won’t be playing for an OVC Championship or a spot in the FCS Playoffs.

And therefore, it would be easy to consider these eight games as meaningless.

It is a very tough schedule as well.

The Citadel, West Carolina, Stephen F. Austin and Central Arkansas (which EKU plays twice) are quality FCS programs from good conferences.

For a team with a roster that features only 11 seniors and has only a handful of starters back from last season, it is going to be an incredibly difficult test.

That’s if these games aren’t postponed because of COVID-19.

If the Colonels don’t win — or even worse if they end up on the losing end of lopsided losses — there will be criticism from even the most loyal fans.

It’s a risk.

I honestly don’t know how to feel about it.

I admire the EKU administration for taking a chance and pushing forward.

I want to be back at Roy Kidd Stadium on Saturday afternoons as much as anyone.

I can also see the possibility of this turning into a complete disaster, though.

There is a real possibility some of these games will be canceled. The ones that aren’t, will likely be played in empty or near-empty stadiums.

Three games against FBS teams will take its toll on a roster that lacks experience.

And moving forward, this decision could cause an simply unfixable rift with the OVC.

Roan said on Friday the league had been helpful in the process.

However, I couldn’t get a statement from anyone at the OVC. After repeated attempts, on Monday, this is what I received — “We do not have any comment at this time.”

That silence speaks volumes.

If the OVC is able to put together a spring football season in the spring, EKU will not be allowed to participate.

That will be embarrassing.

Period.

At this point, though, its impossible to know what will happen.

The world changes every day.

I whole-heartedly hope the Colonels are able to play all eight games and Wells and his staff can start a new era with plenty of wins and lots of positive momentum, which should carry over into recruiting.

I don’t want them to fail.

Failure, though, is a real possibility.

In the end, we will look back on this season and once again be able to use those worn-out sports cliche to describe it all.

I just hope we aren’t saying ....

They dropped the ball.

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