While some of the major conferences in Division I college football are playing ball this fall, the Bobcats haven’t had the opportunity to take a snap yet. The Big Sky Conference announced in August that the football season would have to wait until there is a way to play safely and consistently. The current goal is to play an eight-game conference scheduled for the spring and followed by a limited FCS playoff in order to crown a national champion. This plan is unlike anything the conference has participated in before, but the hope is that the spring season can bring some comfort for athletic programs like MSU, who are unable to play this fall.
One possibility is that the season will commence on Saturday Feb.13, which poses its own issues to schools such as MSU. As students know, January, February and March aren’t ideal weather windows to practice or host outdoor football games. The snow and freezing temperatures will also make it tough for the Bobcats to prepare for the season compared to the warm summer months when fall football normally begins. Combining the weather, limited practice options and other unforeseen circumstances, this spring will be a challenge like no other for the team.
While the season will be challenging to prepare for, Bobcat fans should maintain confidence in this squad to rise above. The Cats’ team identity for the past four years under head coach Jeff Choate’s leadership has been “to be a competitor anytime, anywhere.” They have proven to be one of the most mentally and physically tough teams in the Big Sky conference in recent years, which will likely mean a lot once this strange season finally kicks off.
Expect the Bobcats to contend for a spot in the 2021 Football Champion Subdivision playoffs, which are set to begin Saturday April 24 with the national championship game pinned for the week of May 14-16. The playoffs will include 16 teams instead of the 24 teams normally allotted. This means that the champions of the 12 eligible FCS teams will automatically qualify for the playoffs and there will only be four spots left for at-large bids. For MSU this means we will either need to win the Big Sky Conference, or finish second with an impressive resume in order to find our way into the postseason. Yet, this team is one of the most talented seen in Bozeman lately, including last year's group which finished their season in the semifinals. This year though, the Cats plan to take the next step and compete for a conference and national championship. The team’s 2020 motto “#NewStandard” says it all, as MSU expects they will field one of the best squads in the FCS.
Things are subject to change going forward. But with an idea of when the Cats may hit the field, there is optimism from both the football program and its fans that we all get to enjoy a season and hopefully a fifth straight win over our rivals from the University of Montana in Missoula. While it may be tough holding out for the start of the season, we’ll get there soon, Bobcat fans. So be ready to cheer on the Blue and Gold, whether it’s from your home or Bobcat Stadium. Go Cats!