By Parris Clarke, Assistant Sports Editor-
The Chattanooga Mocs football team has opted out of the last three spring games due to not having a sufficient number of players left to continue.
Monday, a group of players banded together, deciding to not continue with the spring season, thus leaving the team without enough players to fill a game. The exact number of players in the group is unknown, but it is said to have been a majority of the team, many of whom are starters.
Head coach Rusty Wright defended his players’ decision to opt-out of the final games seeing as they were facing an unprecedented set of circumstances.
“They’re right. I completely support them … To their credit, those young men hung in there and if you watched them play, I think you’ll see a group that’s passionate about playing, they care about each other, they care about this university and this program, but enough is enough,” Wright said.
Wright’s made the decision Saturday to sit the majority of his starters and use the rest of the spring games to develop less experienced players, a decision that sent ripples throughout the university and the Southern Conference.
Wright was asked if he thought this move impacted the decision made by the players to opt-out:
“I don’t think it did. I really don’t. Like I said it took a lot to get us to this point,” Wright said. “They feel like there’s something good happening they’re just in a wayward place right now, they’re a ship without a shore just trying to navigate and they’re just doing the best they can.”
The spring season has been incredibly volatile, taking a toll on everyone involved, the players especially. Players were called back to campus in January to prepare for a season that would start the next month. Even while on campus and practicing there was the looming thought, week to week, that one positive COVID-19 test could render an entire week’s worth of practice useless.
“I think that if people and coaches in places are honest with you they’ll say the same thing … There was no one to lean on. None of us had anybody, none of us had the right answer. That’s what made it extremely, extremely difficult, there was no blueprint,” Wright said.
Pandemic uncertainties aside, it was reported that the injury to starting center Kyle Miskelley during the Furman game was the breaking point for the players in deciding to discontinue the season.
While the long-term ramifications of this decision are still uncertain, the short-term future is not. UTC showed promise in their four spring games and will be expected to win now. In 155 days the Mocs will kick off the fall season, and by then they’ll need everyone on board to be successful during a full 12-game slate.
Follow the UTC Echo for updates as this story continues to develop.