Holiday Bowl, NC State Exhausting All Options to Replace UCLA

The Holiday Bowl and North Carolina State are not throwing in the towel yet as they hunt for a team to replace UCLA.

Just hours before kickoff for Tuesday’s bowl, the Bruins announced they would not be able to participate due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the program. According to The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman, the team’s defensive line corps “has been decimated by Covid issues,” leading to the decision to withdraw. “The Bruins were down to two interior D-Linemen yesterday for this game with a converted LB as the back-up nose guard, and were set to play but then had more [COVID-19] issues today,” he added.

The SDCCU Holiday Bowl later tweeted, “We do not want to cancel the game officially until we have exhausted every opportunity to find a replacement team, and we are currently working closely with Boo Corrigan and his great staff at @PackAthletics to do so.”

The Raleigh News & Observer‘s Jonas Pope IV and Luke DeCock reported that the Wolfpack have spoken with “north of 10 teams” in wake of the cancellation, including East Carolina, Southern Methodist and Memphis, who all declined. However, the two wrote that there was a “slim chance” San Jose State would be able to compete, but the 5–7 program had not played since Thanksgiving. 

“That’s the hard part, right? Trying to figure out who’s available, who’s still around,” Corrigan said to the N&O. “People have been canceled out of games and then they let them go. All of a sudden they’re home and trying to reconvene them. We started that conversation immediately.”

Additionally, Holiday Bowl officials have reportedly spoken with FOX about other broadcast windows. 

NC State head coach Dave Doeren said earlier on Tuesday that he thought the news of the cancellation “was fake news to be honest,” adding that he felt that UCLA could have done a better job handling the situation.

“Felt lied to … We felt like UCLA probably knew something was going on with their team and didn’t tell anybody. On our side, we had know clue what they were up against that. I don’t think it was very well handled from their university.

“It would’ve been great if we had a heads up maybe two or three days ago to find a plan B.”

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