Gasparilla Bowl canceled after South Carolina can't play due to COVID-19

Nick Bromberg
·2-min read

Another SEC team is unable to play in a bowl game and another bowl game has been canceled as a result.

South Carolina said Tuesday that it would not play in the Gasparilla Bowl on Saturday because of COVID-19 positives among the team. The Gamecocks were set to play UAB.

“The team was excited to learn Sunday that it would play in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa on Saturday,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said in a statement.

“However, between members of the coaching staff and student-athletes, COVID and contact tracing has taken a toll too high for us to overcome. I have notified the bowl and the SEC office that we are not able to play in the game on Saturday.”

Hours after South Carolina’s announcement, ESPN announced that the Gasparilla Bowl had been canceled. There are now just 27 bowl games in 2020 after the game’s cancellation. It was set to kick off at Noon ET on Dec. 26.

“The current environment has presented many challenges,” bowl director Scott Glaser said in a statement. “We looked into a number of options for UAB, but ultimately could not identify any opportunities for them to play at this time. We are appreciative of the many supporters in the community, including our new title sponsor – Union Home Mortgage, and look forward to staging the game in 2021.”

UAB won Conference USA

UAB was simply a victim of South Carolina’s circumstance and, unlike the Gamecocks, deserved a bowl game. The Blazers beat Marshall for the Conference USA title on Saturday and finished the season at 6-3. UAB has won Conference USA in two of the last three years and has finished above .500 in all four seasons since the program was shut down in 2015 and 2016.

The Gamecocks would have been playing in the game with an interim coach in Mike Bobo. He became the acting head coach when Will Muschamp was fired midseason. Former Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer has been hired as USC’s next coach.

South Carolina was selected for a bowl game despite going 2-8 in 2020. The Gamecocks got to go to a bowl because the SEC needed to fill its bowl contracts and 5-5 LSU had self-imposed a bowl ban. South Carolina’s selection to a bowl coupled with 9-2 Army’s bowl snub was the most glaring ridiculousness of the bowl season.

But Army is now in a bowl game. The Black Knights replaced Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl on Monday. Tennessee (3-7) is unable to play in the game because of COVID-19 positives. Given that two teams have been forced to back out of bowl games in two days, UAB could find itself as a replacement team later this week if it’s willing to stay ready.

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 14: A South Carolina Gamecocks helmet sits on a trunk close to the bench during the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the South Carolina Gamecocks on September 14, 2019 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia,SC. (Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
South Carolina went 2-8 in 2020. (Photo by Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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