College officials see money.
It is rather fitting that the calendar year 2020 is ending with a very hastily put together college football bowl game as one team had to drop out because of COVID-19. The Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee will feature West Virginia and the United States Military Academy in a matchup that was not supposed to happen. Initially the game was to be a Tennessee-West Virginia affair but then changed within a 10-hour span. There were positive COVID-19 tests that came out of the University of Tennessee’s football program and on December 21st, the school pulled out of the game. Steve Ehrhart, who as the Liberty Bowl’s executive director makes decisions, had to react quickly. He reached out to West Point officials to see if they were interested in sending the Army football team to Memphis.
The United States Military Academy’s Army team was supposed to play in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana on December 26th but COVID-19 became a problem. Army was set but the organizers of the Shreveport event could not find an opponent as seven Pac-12 Conference squads, six Atlantic Coast Conference football programs and other schools decided it was not worth the effort in the pandemic to travel to Shreveport. United States Military Academy officials jumped at the chance to play in Memphis. Shreveport is not the only area to lose a bowl game because of the pandemic. The Bahamas Bowl in Nassau and the Hawaii Bowl were canceled. Bowl games in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, El Paso, Texas, Frisco, Texas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego and Santa Clara, California did not host bowl games either. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque was played in Frisco, Texas. But other games have been played or will go on because there is television and marketing money on the table.