ORONO — The University of Maine football team likely had its playoff hopes ended Saturday afternoon in a 44-17 loss to Villanova at Alfond Stadium.

With just six at-large berths available in the 16-team FCS spring playoffs, even if Maine wins its final two games of the season, a 4-2 record is unlikely to get the Black Bears in.

But the Colonial Athletic Association may be faced with more pressing matters – such as, will it get to the end of the season without more postponements?

The Maine-Villanova game was the only one of five CAA games scheduled for this weekend to actually be played. Three were postponed – James Madison at Richmond, William & Mary at Elon and New Hampshire at Rhode Island – because of COVID-19 protocols. A fourth game – Albany at Delaware – was canceled because the Great Danes opted out of the rest of the spring season on Wednesday, citing an extraordinary number of injuries.

In all, seven of the league’s games have been postponed this spring because of COVID protocols – not including next Saturday’s Elon-James Madison contest, which has already been called off. Maine and Stony Brook are the only CAA teams that have been able to play all of their scheduled games so far. New Hampshire has only played once.

CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio, reached Saturday afternoon, said the league will finish the season and determine a champion and the winner of its automatic berth in the FCS playoffs. And, he hopes, other teams will warrant at-large consideration.

“We’re certainly hopeful that the CAA will get the opportunity to get possibly one of the at-large spots in the field, he said. “In any year, it’s a challenge to determine those at-large spots. This year, with a smaller field, the (selection) committee will probably have a more challenging job.”

Maine’s two losses have been to Delaware (3-0) and Villanova (2-1), two teams in the conversation for at-large bids if they don’t get the league’s automatic bid. Richmond (3-0) and James Madison (4-0 overall, 2-0 in the CAA) are also in contention but have had two games against each other postponed. Delaware and Villanova play each other on April 17, and Delaware has picked up a nonconference game against Delaware State next weekend.

Still, that would give the Blue Hens only five games, while Villanova would have only four. Asked if that would hinder their chances of making the playoffs, D’Antonio said the committee will consider all the facts, including having games postponed because of COVID-19. “I think we’re in a year where the committee is going to have to look at all the facts at its disposal and all the scenarios that play out,” he said.

D’Antonio said CAA schools have until April 17 to make up the postponed games, but there is much to consider before a game will be finalized, with the health of the players being the biggest concern.

So that leaves the question: Will all the games remaining on the league’s schedule – including Maine’s final two against Rhode Island and New Hampshire – actually be played? UMaine officials said they can’t worry about that.

“Like all CAA schools, we are watching the COVID situations carefully,” said Athletic Director Ken Ralph. “All we can do is work to keep our students safe and get them prepared for their next game.”

And that’s what the Black Bears will do. Coach Nick Charlton said he and others talked Friday night about the possibility of those games not being played. But he preferred to focus on what he and his team can do.

“These kids, these young men, have put in a lot of work,” he said. “These guys have made unbelievable sacrifices to even have this game played. And I’m proud of our guys for getting out there and playing hard.

“Am I nervous about not playing those games? I don’t control that. I just worry about us and that’s all I can handle.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.