By Tom Weber, SIUSalukis.com
The Salukis are 4-3 on the season, with wins over three ranked opponents in SEMO, North Dakota State and Northern Iowa. The field for the 16-team FCS Playoffs will be announced on Sunday, April 18.
“I am extremely disappointed for our student-athletes to lose this opportunity to play Senior Day against Western Illinois,” SIU Director of Athletics Liz Jarnigan said. “Our program has followed every protocol and battled through so much adversity to get to this point, and we hurt for our student-athletes and coaches. My hope is that our community is proud of the commitment they have demonstrated.”
Jarnigan said she is looking to find a potential replacement game that could take place before the playoff announcement.
I am deeply disappointed — disappointed for our players, our coaches, our fans and for our league. Ten conference schools stood together in January and made an “unwavering commitment” to each other to play a full spring schedule. Our last two opponents have now backed out of that pledge.
Here at SIU, our players and coaches remained committed to do the right thing the entire season. No excuses. We had a freak blizzard that kept us from practicing during the 10 days leading up to our season opener at North Dakota. When other teams opted out due to weather, WE PLAYED. We started the season 4-1 and ranked fifth in the country, then lost two starting quarterbacks and two starting defensive tackles. When other teams opted out due to injuries, WE PLAYED. Last Saturday at Missouri State, we were down to five defensive linemen and travelled 11 true freshmen. WE PLAYED. Not one time this season has our team complained or looked for an excuse. We’ve lost two games in a row, and the experts say we’re out of the playoffs, and still not one person has questioned continuing to play. We practiced on Easter Sunday. We could have taken the easy way out. WE PLAYED.
When the selection committee looks at the resumes of the teams that are still competing this spring, they will see our Top 25 wins over SEMO, Northern Iowa and North Dakota State. More importantly, I hope they see that, regardless of the circumstances, THE SALUKIS PLAYED. I am incredibly proud of our football team.