Cromer, Solich cite contact tracing as reason for postponement

Ohio University and the Bobcats’ football team have been trying to defend against the coronavirus for months.

On Monday, the department went on the offensive.

Speaking on ‘The Frank Solich Show’ – Ohio’s weekly radio program featuring the Bobcats’ head coach – both Solich and Ohio athletics director Julie Cromer spoke about the postponement of Tuesday night’s scheduled game at rival Miami.

Both offered more clarity and followed up the statements they released on Sunday

Ohio Director of Athletics Julie Cromer is seen here in 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Photo by Jason Arkley

The message was clear. Ohio followed its protocols. There is not an outbreak within the program or the department. And both believe the Bobcats have a “good” chance to play their next scheduled game, on Saturday, Nov. 28 against visiting Bowling Green.

You can listed to the whole program here.

Cromer didn’t give specific testing data relative to the Ohio football team, but did offer some clarity about how many active COVID-19 cases are within the department as a whole. OU has previously reported COVID numbers for the department, but has never broken the data down by specific sport.

“At this point we have only four active cases in our department, and that includes not just the football program,” Cromer said.

Solich, too, wanted to assure listeners his program wasn’t overrun with positive tests.

“It’s not running rampant,” he said. “We’re talking about a positive test, one.”

Technically, Ohio had enough available players to play at Miami. The problem for the Bobcats was that one position group was impacted severely. Neither Solich, nor Cromer, named that position group.

One player tested positive during the weekend as a matter of regularly scheduled testing. But once contact tracing on that positive was complete, and injuries at the group were considered, OU found it couldn’t fill those spots on the depth chart.

“(It) wiped us out at a position group,” Solich said.

“The contact tracing impact made us incredibly lean in a particular part of our team. That, in combination with an injury here or there … led us to have to work through the conference to have to make that call,” Cromer said.

There were plans to try to cover the lack of bodies at the position group with different schemes and formations, but two more injuries – Solich said one was a season-ender with the other requiring “four to six” weeks – made that impossible.

Solich indicated there were preliminary discussions about moving the Miami game to Saturday, Nov. 21, but Ohio did not anticipate the numbers at the specific group improving by then. Solich said the team has continued testing throughout Sunday and Monday.

“That all came back great,” the coach said.

Ohio held workouts on Monday, and Solich believed the team would resume practice activities on Tuesday. He admitted the weekend was tough and reiterated his support for his players, who he believes have done everything possible to keep the virus at bay.

“It’s disheartening. It’s tough to go to sleep with that on your mind,” he said. “They’ve had to go through an awful lot this entire season … I felt really bad for our guys.”

Cromer echoed those sentiments and believes OU will be on the field for Bowling Green.

“It we stay on track, I think we’ll be in good shape,” she said. “We have a really good chance to be able to be closer to whole in time to make that game.”

Cromer also dropped a few other bits of information during her interview:

  • Cromer said it’s not probable, but there remains a sliver of a chance the Battle of the Bricks could be held this season. She said the MAC has indicated a willingness to switch opponents if more than one game is impacted by COVID in a given week. “It’s not inconceivable,” said. “There is some small chance that could line up.”
  • Cromer said nothing has changed about Ohio’s hopes in the MAC East title chase. Ohio still has to play three games to qualify for the division title, and winning percentage will dictate the division champ. “Nothing mathematically has changed for us,” she said.
  • Ohio men’s basketball is scheduled to open the season on Nov. 25, at Illinois, in a three-day, three-game, challenge-style event featuring the host Illini, Wright State and North Carolina A&T. OU, however, has still not released a non-conference schedule for the upcoming season. Cromer confirmed Ohio’s participation at Illinois and believed the schedule release would be coming “soon.” “I think the ink is drying on a few pages still,” she added.

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