BYU, Navy Ready To Send Message That America Can Move Forward Amidst COVID-19

Sep 3, 2020, 12:11 PM | Updated: Sep 7, 2020, 12:58 am

PROVO, Utah – BYU and Navy take center stage in the opening week of the college football slate. This year clearly feels different than any other in memory because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But football is football and no one can take that away from these programs that have sacrificed a lot to get to this point.

The two teams both lost opening week matchups against historic rivals. Navy was set to have a Week 0 contest in Ireland against Notre Dame and BYU was going to open on the road at Utah in a Thursday night showcase.

After losing the rivalry games, Navy reached out to BYU to make a game work, and the first matchup between the Cougars and Midshipmen since 1989 came together in a matter of hours in early August.

Now both teams are excited for the Labor Day night stage that they will have in front of a nationally-televised audience that is craving for college football more than ever before due to real-world trials everyone has experienced in 2020.

BYU and Navy will play in a pandemic, but it won’t be reckless

“I think it’s exciting,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo told KSL Sports. “We still gotta get there. Hopefully, we both keep doing what we’re supposed to, protocol-wise and don’t have an outbreak, you know, the day before. Hopefully, we don’t get cocky and still stay safe.

“But I think it’s exciting. You got two teams, two schools, that are going to press forward. I think it’s exciting to play on national television. Even though you’d like to have fans, I think it’s a great message though to send to our country that we’re going to play, but, it’s not reckless.”

BYU comes into the Labor Day night showdown with a sense of gratitude and relief that the season is finally here. Being an FBS Independent, BYU has made it clear they were going to play in the fall of 2020. But finding games was going to be the hurdle. Having a matchup with Navy, a team that finished last year ranked is an exciting opportunity for the Cougars.

Good Reminder

“Everyone knows this year has been crazy, to say the least,” said BYU wide receiver coach Fesi Sitake. “It’s been a giant tug of war of emotions for many people, rightfully so. Wherever you stand on anything, to me, it will just be a nice sigh of relief to just get out onto the field and play a football game and have some fun. Do it in a classy way -sportsmanship-, with, you know, an unbelievable team, the Naval Academy.

“What a great opportunity for us and a good reminder about what we have in this country and the freedoms we’re able to enjoy. So to play a team like that to go toe-to-toe with them to open it up on Labor Day it’s a great storyline and we’re super excited [about] it.”

Both programs have stepped up their efforts to keep players and staff safe during the pandemic. It was one of the reasons this game together, to begin with. BYU is testing its players three times a week with saliva-based testing and Navy have had their players in a “bubble” on campus since June.

With Monday night approaching fast, the opportunity is there for both teams to let the country know that life, as we know it right now, isn’t the “new normal”. Traditions such as college football will return to its glory and progress out of this pandemic can be achieved.

“There’s not going to be any fans there. The bubble is going to be small. It’s just the players who play, the officials, and everybody else has been tested,” Niumatalolo said. “I think it sends a great message to our country that you can press forward and move on with life but not from a wreckless standpoint.”

BYU at Navy

Monday, September 7th, 2020

Annapolis, Maryland


Radio: KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

Kickoff: 6 p.m. (MDT)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

Cougar Tracks

BYU Football, Zach Wilson, Kalani Sitake, Signing Day...

Mitch Harper

Ranking BYU Football’s Best Players To Sign During The Kalani Sitake Era

The best players to sign with BYU football for Kalani Sitake from high school and the Transfer Portal.

2 months ago

Foster Pavilion, Baylor Bears, BYU Basketball, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Foster Pavilion Was Great Stage For BYU’s First Big 12 Road Game

Baylor's new $212 million home was a great setting for a Big 12 basketball game.

3 months ago

BYU Football, 12-Team Playoff, LJ Martin...

Mitch Harper

Three Things BYU Football Needs To One Day Reach 12-Team Playoff

The 12-team Playoff is coming in college football. What does BYU need to do to one day play in the bracket?

3 months ago

Big 12 Basketball, BYU, Dallin Hall...

Mitch Harper

How Will BYU Basketball Fare In Big 12? Projecting 2024 Order Of Finish

Where will BYU finish in their first season of Big 12 Conference play? Time to make predictions.

4 months ago

BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Mark Pope Lays Out BYU’s Expectations For Inaugural Big 12 Schedule

Big 12 play has arrived for No. 12 BYU Basketball. Mark Pope shares his expectations for conference play.

4 months ago

BYU Basketball, Trevin Knell, Three-Point Shooting...

Mitch Harper

What We Learned About BYU Basketball During Nonconference Play

BYU basketball turns its attention to Big 12 play. But first we take a step back at look at what we learned about the Cougars in nonconference.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

BYU, Navy Ready To Send Message That America Can Move Forward Amidst COVID-19