Fans and players who traveled to Dallas from halfway across the country were left wondering Wednesday why no contingency plans were in place after the scheduled ServPro First Responder Bowl -- pitting No. 25 Boise State against Boston College -- was abruptly canceled due to lightning.
Organizers let the teams play for all of about 10 minutes before thunderstorms delayed the game for over an hour. The decision to cancel the contest came as more lightning and heavy rain was expected in the area.
The Boston College Eagles were leading 7-0 when play ended, but the game was ruled "no contest."
“You can imagine the locker room when you are dealing with competitors. They wanted to play the game,” Eagles head coach Steve Addazio told the Boston Herald. "We are all deeply disappointed and I can’t speak for the other team but their locker room is like our locker room, full of competitors.”
"We are all deeply disappointed and I can’t speak for the other team but their locker room is like our locker room, full of competitors.”
The outcome was also disappointing for Boise State fans, who wanted to send quarterback Brett Rypien and other Bronco seniors out with a win to secure a Top 25 finish.
It was known for several days that thunderstorms were expected in the Dallas area that could disrupt the game, the Idaho Statesman reported.
Playing anywhere but Cotton Bowl Stadium – an outdoor venue that could handle the 8,000 to 10,000 fans who showed up Wednesday -- was not considered and changing the date or game time was not possible, organizers said.
Brant Ringler, executive director of the bowl game, told the Statesman he hoped the storm would miss the stadium or force only a brief delay in play.
“It was never the intention to move the game or anything like that,” he said. “Usually the weather does play out in the favor of the bowl being played.”
The slogan for the bowl game's sponsor, ServPro -- a provider of water cleanup services -- couldn't have rung more true: “Like it never even happened.”
Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin had to deliver the bad news to his players.
“It was a difficult conversation,” Harsin said, according to the Boston Herald. “They’re looking at me, I’m like, ‘Help me out, guys, because this is a new one.’"
Those who traveled to see the game can choose between a full ticket refund or free tickets for next year’s First Responder Bowl, according to the bowl’s website.
"Due to the cancellation of this year’s SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, ticketholders will have the option of a full game ticket refund OR tickets to next year’s game at no cost, with two additional tickets offered per order. Email firstname.lastname@example.org," a First Responder Bowl tweet read.
“It sucks,” Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien told the Statesman. “That’s the only way you can put it. You fly all the way down here and, unfortunately, the weather wasn’t good enough.”
“It sucks. That’s the only way you can put it. You fly all the way down here and, unfortunately, the weather wasn’t good enough.”
“I feel bad for the seniors that didn’t get to play and finish the season,” Shawna Cleveland, mother of Boise State sophomore offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland, told the Statesman. “We put a pretty penny down to come here, but we know he’ll be back next season, those seniors won’t.”
The bowl game was the first to be canceled because of weather, according to the NCAA.
“You can’t make this up, but first and foremost I commend the bowl for making a tough decision,” Boston College athletic director Martin Jarmond told the Herald. “We all wanted to play with all the work and effort and 15 practices that go into a game like this, to have it taken from you was a tough decision. In all of my years of college athletics, I've never seen this."
"In all of my years of college athletics, I've never seen this."
Some fans were able to find the humor in Wednesday's non-event.
"The First Responder Bowl should be embarrassed for cancelling the game due to lighting [sic]. I’ve made my youth football players practice in lightning storms and wade through a pool while holding a metal pole to show loyalty, and they’re doing fine. Championship rings repel lightning," one Twitter user wrote.
"I feel like a First Responder bowl would have a better response plan," another tweeted.