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Monday, October 25, 2021

Coronavirus

‘COVID giveth, COVID taketh away’: UH AD Pezman sums up yet-to-be-started football season


The UH football team's game against Baylor was officially postponed on Friday afternoon, but athletic director Chris Pezman said it has essentially been canceled. Pezman also said the Cougars and Bears plan to honor their future home and home agreement. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The UH football team’s game against Baylor was officially postponed on Friday afternoon, but athletic director Chris Pezman said it has essentially been canceled. Pezman also said the Cougars and Bears plan to honor their future home and home agreement. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The freight train that is 2020 continues to plow through its tracks, and the UH football team has been stuck in one of its cars for the entire month of September and has not been able to reach a stop to begin its season.

The Cougars have now had four potential season-opening games postponed or flat out canceled since the campaign was supposed to begin on Sept. 3 against Rice, and on Friday afternoon, Baylor added its game to the list after the announcement that Saturday’s game was postponed due to various factors regarding the coronavirus and the Big 12’s rules on contact tracing.

“COVID giveth and COVID taketh away,” athletic director Chris Pezman told reporters on Friday afternoon via Zoom after Baylor’s announcement. “It’s what this year is going to be. Ups and downs.”

Despite there being numerous changes to the schedule up to this point, there is no doubt that this one stings the most for the UH football team as it happened less than 24 hours before the set kick-off time against Baylor.

While it is nothing new for Houston and its players and staff, the buzz for this game had definitely built up. It was going to be the first meeting between the Cougars and Bears since 1995, and a lot of frustration and even some doubt is starting to rise with the constant delay in beginning the games, but the priority for the coaching staff is to keep the players bought in.

“What we have to focus on is that our kids stay in a good place,” Pezman said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a nonconference game at the end of the day.”

For Pezman, while not being able to play Baylor is a big emotional blow, it still has not deterred them from their goal of winning the American Athletic Conference, which is what he says the coaches are using to keep the players locked in.

Up to this point, the UH football team has also remained in a good spot in regards to coronavirus testing Pezman said, and while the team has not released any official numbers or reports, the school has not suffered any setbacks since it paused early offseason workouts in June “out of an abundance of caution.”

The athletic director gives major credit for the control of COVID-19 amongst the team to the players.

“The engagement and buy-in with our student-athletes has been extraordinary,” Pezman said. “We’re in a good place. We’ve been very fortunate to be healthy. Our kids are doing an incredible job.”

Now that Houston has had to reset its countdown for the 2020 season again, the challenge becomes keeping the players motivated to not only work hard in practice but to continue following the virus guidelines because just one slip up could derail where the team is in drastically.

While the student-athletes are disappointed in Friday’s news, it seems like at least a few of them are already looking ahead to North Texas.

As for the UH football coaching staff, they have to make sure that there is no let-up both on and off the field.

“Our team has been and remains ready to play,” head coach Dana Holgorsen was quoted in a statement released by UH. “I’m extremely proud of our kids, coaches and staff for working hard to meet both conferences’ testing protocols to compete this Saturday (against Baylor). We’ll be ready to play when the time comes.”

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