Two things were made clear in the Kansas State football press conference on Tuesday — the team wanted to play, and they wanted answers on if and when their season will take place.
“Just give me a football and let’s go play,” senior quarterback Skylar Thompson, said.
Senior linebacker Justin Hughes agreed.
“We just want to get out there and get to it,” he said.
After the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences both cancelled their fall football seasons, there was uncertainty regarding whether or not the Wildcats would play this year.
But on Wednesday morning, the Big 12 announced their plan to play football this fall, with a 10-game season filled with nine conference games and one non-conference game.
K-State will open their 2020 campaign at home against Arkansas State on Sept. 12 and then head to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the Sooners two weeks later to open up their Big 12 slate.
Big 12 announces fall sports will proceed, requires testing three times a week in high-contact sports
Thompson said the uncertainty surrounding the entire ordeal had been weighing on the team.
“This is our life,” said Thompson. “This is a big, big part of my life. We have invested so much time into this. The fact that it is up in the air if [the season] is gonna happen, is hard to process, and it puts a lot of weight on your shoulders.”
Head coach Chris Klieman said the unknown was difficult.
“It’s been really, I think hard on the guys,” Klieman said. “The mental strain that this has on them, the anxiety of not having a lot of answers.”
Klieman, who led the Wildcats to an 8-5 finish last year and an appearance in the Liberty Bowl, said not knowing what to tell his players was hard as a coach.
“It’s one of the few times as a football coach where you don’t have a lot of answers to give [to your players],” Klieman said.
The group said they are going to do everything in their power to operate safely.
“We want to be able to do the things we love safely, and so, whatever it takes to do that we would love to do it,” Hughes said.
Hughes, who missed the 2019 season after tearing his ACL, is viewing this time as simply another obstacle. He said overcoming adversity is nothing new to this group.
“We’re just a bunch of relentless guys that fight through adversity,” Hughes said. “We’ve come across a couple of obstacles off the field, and we handled it as a team. We handle adversity well.”
Even with the concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Klieman still believes the players are safer while they are together at K-State.
“I think this is the best environment because we have great medical professionals that are on top of these guys, and they’re following the protocols,” Klieman said.