Thursday was a day in the life of a sports coach during the coronavirus pandemic.
Having already dropped a game due to COVID-19 protocols, Weber State men’s basketball head coach Randy Rahe saw Craig Smith’s contact pop up on his phone Thursday morning and figured it wouldn’t be a call he would enjoy answering.
The Utah State head coach told Rahe he had positive COVID-19 testing results in his program and Saturday’s game in Ogden had to be called off.
In a matter of a few hours, Weber State had lined up a road trip to Boise State instead and so, positive attitudes and negative test results willing, the Wildcats will face the Broncos at 2 p.m. Sunday for their first Division I game of the season.
The quick work helped soften the disappointment of losing the Utah State game. The two programs had already spoken prior to Thursday and Boise was the first call Rahe made.
“We’ve been keeping a list of teams that might be looking for games because of having their games canceled. Boise had called us last week ... so we called them back this morning and they were all for it. They said ‘yeah, let’s go.’ So it happened fast and worked out well,” Rahe said.
WSU has played two Division II opponents in Adams State (Nov. 25) and Westminster (Dec. 8) while many schools have logged four or more games to this point. Without adding Boise, Weber would have gone 10 days off, and having played two games in the first 23 days of the season, leading into its first conference series at Portland State, scheduled for Dec. 18 and 20.
“It’s a good thing, because this would’ve been tough if we couldn’t have found a game and then go into those conference games. It’s getting rough on our team. I’m appreciative of Boise being flexible enough to have us come there,” Rahe said.
Boise State is 3-1 this season with a recent win at BYU, victories against Sam Houston State and NAIA foe College of Idaho, and a loss to Houston. The Broncos have lost games to cancellation to Montana Western and Santa Clara, and were picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference.
“That’s what we need, we need to play against a good, high-quality opponent because we’re struggling here with two games in two weeks,” Rahe said. “We have no idea who we are just yet, we’re putting it together and the only way to do that is play games. This should help us out a little bit.”
The two teams have a long history, owing to Boise State’s Big Sky membership from 1970-1996. Weber State leads the all-time series 41-28, with a 4-4 mark after Boise left the Big Sky. The teams haven’t played since an in-season, nonconference home-and-home in 2005, when Weber won in Boise and Boise won in Ogden two weeks apart.
As for playing Utah State, the calendar isn’t very conducive to rescheduling this month. Weber is slated to follow its Dec. 18/20 series at Portland State with a Dec. 23 game against BYU. After a pause for the holidays, conference play resumes Dec. 31 against Idaho State.
But schedules may be disrupted again, so WSU and USU will stay in touch.
“We left it at, if something happens down the road where we get another cancellation and they get one, let’s try to hook up and play. Whether that happens or not, we don’t know,” Rahe said.
Weber State can play a maximum of five nonconference games outside of a 20-game league schedule, according to adjustments made by the NCAA when it delayed the start of the season from Nov. 10 to Nov. 25. Teams must play a total of 13 games to meet sport sponsorship requirements this season and 13 Division I opponents to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.