BILLINGS -- Much like the next-man-up philosophy, now it's next-season-up for football guys at Rocky Mountain College and across the Frontier Conference.
The league announced late Thursday afternoon it will not play football this fall, instead aiming for the spring, even as Montana's Frontier teams had recently vowed to move forward with an eight-game round-robin schedule to kick off in September. League-wide practices were set to launch Saturday morning.
Instead, Rocky Mountain College head coach Chris Stutzriem was charged with telling his players just before dinner on Thursday that patience is still a virtue.
"We found out about 4 o'clock, had a staff meeting about 4:15, talked about that," Stutzriem told MTN Sports on campus shortly after he learned of the news. "Had a team meeting, announced it to our guys, I think a lot of them felt relieved. Now we've got some clarity as far as, hey, let's take things slow, let's get guys prepared."
Now competitive plans turn to five, six or seven months down the road. The league is formulating a new schedule and start date that Sutzriem believes may be unveiled soon, as the NAIA is expected to announced plans for its spring playoff and championship dates within the next couple weeks.
"I would like to see a return to school probably middle, late January, couple weeks, see where we're at in the weight room, running," Stutzriem said looking ahead. "Then you've got to have another 21-24 days where you can get out and practice."
Stutzriem half-heartedly joked that at this point he'd love to see a big, warm bubble built over Herb Klindt Field before winter workouts.
"We'll put our hats on, try to think of the best plan and instead of ending the season in cold weather, we'll start it -- but we'll end in good weather," he said.