The 2018 First Responder Bowl is officially a no contest.
After a lightning delay extended over an hour, officials at the bowl game pitting Boston College and Boise State decided to cancel it altogether. It won’t be made up. Boston College finishes the season at 7-5 and Boise State finishes the season at 10-3.
“I commend the bowl for making a tough decision. We all wanted to play. The work and effort and the 15 practices that go into a game like this, to have it taken from you — that’s a tough decision,” Boston College athletic director Martin Jarmond said.
“It’s made easier when you think about the guys having to be in the locker room for four or five hours, have to come back out on the wet field and warm up. With injuries, you’re asking for it. At the end of the day, it’s an easy call, but it’s a tough call. We supported the bowl. It’s unfortunate these guys, especially the seniors, didn’t get a chance to finish it out.”
It’s the first time an FBS bowl game has been canceled due to weather.
Boston College was leading 7-0 when the lightning came
Boston College was up 7-0 in the first quarter when the game was stopped for lightning within an eight-mile radius. By rule, games are suspended for 30 minutes after a lightning strike within the radius.
The Eagles accumulated 96 yards of offense in the first quarter to Boise State’s 33. But since the game is ruled a no contest, the stats don’t count. Boston College running back AJ Dillon can say he scored a touchdown in a game that officially never happened.
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The game was played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. With lightning and rain expected to plague the area for the foreseeable future, the game got canceled. Jarmond said the next wave of lightning strikes was projected to be “five times bigger” than the one that originally halted the game.
“The main cell that was going to hit was supposed to be around 3 p.m. That was going to be late in the second half so we thought we would be fine,” Jarmond said. “The weather we saw was not initially going to hit us. It shifted with the wind and it hit us. If that doesn’t happen, I think we’re OK. That was a game-changer. And when I learned the one coming at 3 p.m. was five times bigger with 350 lightning strikes, that was all I needed to hear.”
Jarmond, who conferred with bowl and ESPN reps, BC coach Steve Addazio, Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and Boise athletic director Curt Apsey, told reporters that he was in favor of making a decisive move instead of trying to wait out the storm for what could have been five hours.
“We don’t need to delay and wait and be here at 6:00 or 7:00. That does nobody any good. To me, that second wave coming took the decision out of our hands, quite frankly,” Jarmond said.
Boston College said it was giving refunds to fans who purchased tickets through the school.
“After more than an hour since stoppage of play, and with review of the active lightning and thunderstorm cells still in the area of the Cotton Bowl, it was determined that the game should be called,” ESPN vice president Pete Derzis said in a statement. “All parties were concerned about player safety first and foremost, and with that being the primary concern, as well as the fans in attendance, it was a unanimous decision to cancel the game.”
Was it the right call?
The decision makes sense. Bowl games are glorified exhibitions (unless they’re in the College Football Playoff). There’s no sense in dragging out a game that really doesn’t have any meaning.
Still, it’s a tough way to go out if you’re a Boston College or Boise State senior playing in your final college football game. Especially when you spent the holiday weekend in Dallas instead of back home with your family. It makes you wonder if more of an effort could have been made to play the game for those that traveled. Could the game have been simply moved to tomorrow and either started from scratch or with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter? Apparently not.
Addazio said there were a lot of tears in the BC locker room after the decision. But he also realized that players’ safety was paramount.
Boston College head coach Steve Addazio reiterates player’s safety was #1 concern in decision pic.twitter.com/ITCER5CRZo
— Will Hall (@WillHallKTVB) December 26, 2018
“Who would I be, or anyone be, to put them in harm’s way?” Addazio said. “So I respect that. It’s a tough call that had to be made here because I don’t know if I could live with myself if, God forbid, something happened.”
Added Jarmond: “We were not going to do a disservice to those seniors that have aspirations to play further and have you in a locker room for five hours — that was a minimum — and possibly come back out and risk injury.”
Could the game have been moved?
The rain was in the Dallas forecast for quite some time but officials hoped it would only end up resulting in scattered showers. Bowl director Brant Ringler said moving the game to another location was not an option.
Bowl director Brant Ringler: "It was never the intention to move the game or anything like that. Usually the weather does play out in the favor of the bowl being played."
— Chadd Cripe (@chaddcripe) December 26, 2018
According to The Athletic, VP of ESPN Events Clint Overby said that rescheduling the game “really wasn’t a practical option” logistically.
Bowl season is always good for a weird thing or two. The cancellation of the First Responder Bowl will certainly make 2018’s list.
Crazily, this is the second canceled game in Texas that Boston College has been involved in this month. The Boston College basketball team’s game at Texas A&M was canceled on Dec. 8 after Boston College couldn’t get to College Station because of a combination of mechanical issues and rain.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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