Furman Football Schedule Brings Excitement but Also Risk and Anxiety for Players
Football is back, but some players are worried and unhappy with the announcement of a spring season.
The 2020-2021 Furman football schedule was released by the Southern Conference and the Furman Athletic Department on Oct. 21. With COVID-19 still an extreme concern, most schools have trimmed their schedules for the spring season so that travelling does not become a hassle for these teams. The Furman football program is set to play eight conference games, with their first game at home vs. Western Carolina on Feb. 20. The Paladins will finish their season on April 17 playing our neighboring rival, Wofford, at home.
It has been over 300 days since Furman’s last game, and fans and players alike are waiting in anticipation for the season to kick off. Even with how things ended last year, as Furman suffered a 42-6 loss in their road playoff game against Austin Peay, everyone has high expectations for the program. Coach Clay Hendrix said, “We were pushing to play in the fall, but when our league made a decision to play in the spring — we're part of a conference for a reason — we followed the guidelines. I think our young men wanted to play for a conference championship, and the spring is when that will be contested, along with the national title. We feel we have a team that can compete for a championship, so we're excited about that." Every team has their sights set on the FCS playoffs in April. If Furman can win the Southern Conference like they did last year, they could potentially receive their third playoff bid in four years. The Paladins are in a good position to do so: they have retained much of the same talent from last year’s squad and have added new talent via strong recruiting and potential play from redshirted players.
However, even with the longing for Furman football to return, not everyone is necessarily on board with the announcement of return to play. The Paladin spoke to several players and sources and has learned that the decision to play amidst a pandemic has been an unpopular one in some circles. One player said, “In my personal opinion it is extremely dangerous, and money focused. Of course, I want to get back out there, and I am very excited for sure, but that does not rule out the fact that this could be a really bad decision. If the number one concern of the NCAA is athlete safety, then there should not be a Spring season. You cannot risk lives for the sport. And what are we supposed to do? Play a whole season and then turn back around and play again in the fall. Our bodies aren’t built for that because if they were, we would play football year around.” Contrary to popular belief, some players are concerned about the risk of playing, even though the excitement surrounding the announcement of a new season is drowning their voices out.
After a promising 8-5 season for the Furman Paladins, the release of the SoCon schedule brings anticipation for a spring season, however, that excitement is not without trepidation. Fans and players both are still concerned about COVID and everyone’s health as they await the return of Furman football.