The Missouri football season is over. The team announced Sunday afternoon that it will not participate in the Music City Bowl against Iowa “due to an increase in in positive COVID-19 tests among its student-athletes, coaches and staff following Mizzou Football’s final regular-season game.” The Tigers will pause all football-related activities until at least Jan. 2.
Multiple sources had told PowerMizzou earlier Sunday that the game was “highly doubtful” to be played. Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz will speak with the media at 3:15 p.m. to discuss the cancelation.
The increase in positive tests comes after Missouri allowed its players to return home for Christmas, although sources familiar with the situation have indicated the positives stem from the team’s final regular season game, Dec. 19 at Mississippi State. The Tigers had already fielded a decimated roster due to opt outs and injuries for several games this season. Drinkwitz said after the Mississippi State game the team took the field with just 52 scholarship players. Since then, star linebacker Nick Bolton and right tackle Larry Borom have announced they will not play in the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft.
“Our student-athletes have been extremely diligent in following all of the SEC’s COVID-19 testing protocols since returning to campus back in the summer, and we are incredibly proud of their efforts to play every regular-season game this fall, as well as the success they have had on the field against a 10-game all-SEC schedule,” Missouri athletics director Jim Sterk said in a release. “However, this eight-day uptick within our program is significant and has made it impossible for us to play in the bowl game, which I know comes as a disappointment to our student-athletes, coaches and fans, who were excited about the opportunity to play a great Iowa team in Nashville.”
Iowa has had COVID-19 issues as well. The Hawkeyes pauses football activities last week due to a spike in positive tests. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was among those to test positive. Iowa resumed practices on Saturday in preparation for the bowl game.
Missouri will finish the first season of the Eli Drinkwitz era with a 5-5 record. The bowl cancelation means Drinkwitz will not have the opportunity to earn a one-year extension and $100,000 raise. His contract would have triggered that if Missouri wins eight games or a bowl game in either of his first two seasons.
“I am disappointed that we were not able to finish the season against a tremendous opponent in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl later this week,” Drinkwitz said. “I am extremely proud of the fight and resiliency that our players have shown throughout this challenging season. This is the eighth time in 11 games we’ve been faced with a schedule adjustment, but we’ve been able to fight through and finish while competing at a very high level throughout the season, which I believe shows the true character of our team. We look forward to returning to Nashville to play in a future TransPerfect Music City Bowl, and experiencing all that this great bowl game offers.”