It was officially announced on Monday that the University of Hawaii football team’s non-conference game against Fordham set for September 12 has been canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rams decision according to a team spokesperson cited the Patriot League’s decision to scrap all games that require air-travel as Fordham is a member of the FCS conference.
The cancellation leaves a void in Hawaii’s hopeful 2020 schedule, but as UH searches to find a replacement, Monday marked as a milestone in college football’s attempt to get back on the field this fall.
Circled on the calendar, July 6 served as a significant date for the Rainbow Warrior football team, as NCAA COVID-19 safety guidelines opened the doors for players to begin mandatory strength and conditioning workouts on campus, which marked as a big step down a hopeful path to a college football season in the fall. According to UH head coach Todd Graham, it’s being handled as meticulously as the x’s and o’s are etched into the playbook.
“Obviously we’re screening everyday. Our guys go through a medical screening, have their temperatures taken everyday with our training staff. Every person that has come back from the mainland has quarantined and the social distancing does work. Wearing masks, doing those types of things are things that we’re going to have to do,” said Graham. “We even talked about doing meetings outside and trying to be creative in that and so we’re going to do anything and everything that we can to keep our guys safe. Even be a little innovative with it, but we’re going to definitely follow this guidelines because the most important thing is keeping our guys safe and that’s what we’ve done to this point.”
Certainly, working through the coronavirus pandemic has brought many challenges including the introduction of Graham and his staff to players. The former Arizona State head coach who was hired to replace Nick Rolovich who left for Washington State, had less than two months as the new head coach before in-person contact was suspended. That forced the 55 year old to tap into the double-tap world of social media and video conferencing.
“The single most important thing to any type of team endeavor, especially in football is relationships. That’s the key that activated it. Relationship is critical. If players know you care about them, they know that you’re organized, they know that you know what you’re talking about, then you’re able to work and strain and train them to help develop them into what we’re after, and that’s elite discipline,” said Graham.
When it comes to harboring doubts for the upcoming season on the heels of the Ivy League moving their entire schedule into the spring, Graham remains focused on the fall, and following all safety protocols to help ensure that come late July, the crunching of the pads can be heard loud and clear in the Manoa Valley.
“I got a positive attitude. I’m looking forward to the season. People ask me everyday is the season going to happen? Hey, that’s my focus. Until somebody tells me different I know that this old coach needs football season, I know that those players need it and want it and if we can do it in a safe manner, I’m looking forward to making that happen,” said Graham. “I for one am looking forward to getting out there on that grass and coaching this football team and I’m looking forward to running out of that ramp at Aloha Stadium man, and taking this team to compete.”
Next up on the schedule for the Rainbow Warriors will target July 17 for the first day of walk-throughs and team meetings with training camp set for July 31. As it stands, Hawaii’s season opener is scheduled for August 29 at Arizona.