UPDATE: In a press conference on Friday afternoon, Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas once again confirmed that the 88th Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl is still on as scheduled, as of Christmas Eve.
Miami and Washington State are slated to square off in the 2021 edition of the game on New Year’s Eve, the first time the game will be played in two years after it was canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020. However, COVID has once again taken center stage, as there have been questions regarding Miami’s ability to play, after multiple players tested positive for the virus this week.
The Hurricanes once again reaffirmed to Olivas on Friday that they have every intention of playing. Olivas told KTSM that Miami was able to send its players home for Christmas on Friday, a turn of events that Olivas took as a positive sign for the Hurricanes’ chances of coming to El Paso.
As KTSM reported earlier this week, Miami will not be arriving for the Sun Bowl until Dec. 30, one day before the game. The Hurricanes will go through bowl practices in Miami. Washington State will get to El Paso on Sunday and practice all week in the Sun City at Eastwood High School.
Olivas is optimistic the game will be played, but admitted that seeing the Hawaii Bowl between Hawaii and Memphis get cancelled less than 24 hours before kickoff due to COVID-19 cases and injuries within the Rainbow Warriors program made him nervous.
“It’s intense, but at the same time we’re preparing to have a football game. You worry about it, not only for the city but for everyone,” Olivas said. “The last thing you want is for people to be sick. I feel horrible for the Hawaii Bowl but also feel horrible for the players that won’t be able to participate. it’s been pretty intense.”
Miami’s band is slated to arrive next Wednesday, before the team. If Miami does have to pull out, it’s possible the sun bowl could find a replacement team – perhaps Memphis or Illinois – but they’re obviously hoping it doesn’t come to that, especially after cancelling the game last year.
In the era of COVID-19, things can change quickly, but as things stand on Christmas Eve, the Sun Bowl between Miami and Washington State is a go.
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl game is still a go, Sun Bowl officials confirming to KTSM on Wednesday. Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas telling KTSM that despite the Miami football program entering COVID protocols on Tuesday, next Friday’s game is still on.
During a conference call with the Sun Bowl on Wednesday, Miami officials reaffirmed to officials with the Sun Bowl Association that the program is fully committed to playing New Year’s Eve Day in El Paso, and the Hurricanes, who are scheduled to play Washington State, are trending in the right direction.
According to Olivas, there will be a change in Miami’s itinerary as they handle COVID protocols. Both teams were scheduled to arrive in El Paso on Sunday to participate in a week’s worth of bowl festivities. However, Miami’s arrival will be delayed, perhaps as late as Thursday of next week, which would be the day before next Friday’s kickoff at 10 a.m. MT. Sources tell KTSM the Hurricanes have pulled out of practicing at the SISD Student Activities Complex (SAC), indicating they plan on holding bowl practices in Miami. Washington State is still scheduled to arrive on Sunday, and will hold their bowl practices at Eastwood High School in El Paso.
As the pandemic has taught us over the past nearly two years, COVID is unpredictable and the situation is fluid. Same goes for the Sun Bowl, but as of Wednesday evening, game on.