Cougs vs. Gophers: Where things stand; Will NIU become WSU opponent in Holiday; will UM boycott see quick resolution like Mizzou in ‘15?

IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE the sudden morass surrounding the Holiday Bowl -- with Minnesota players threatening to boycott the bowl game vs. Washington State on Dec. 27 -- will go on too long. If Minnesota boycotts, Northern Illinois would be next in line and "likely would play" if a decision could be reached in the next 36 hours, a source told ESPN. So how might this all play out? A good jumping off point for discussion: what happened at Missouri last year.

More than 30 Missouri football players one Saturday night in November 2015 threatened to boycott the last four games of the season amid racial tension on campus. The players also demanded the resignation of the university’s president. 

The Mizzou players’ decision certainly wasn’t the only factor. But it was a catalyst, and once the football players’ boycott of all football activities was announced it quickly grabbed the national spotlight. And it took all of 36 hours for Mizzou to hoist the white flag, the president to resign and for the football players to declare victory -- all accomplished without the football squad missing a single scheduled practice.

Minnesota's players, however, have already missed one bowl practice in announcing their boycott late Thursday afternoon.  The nuclear option here would be for the Holiday Bowl to give Minnesota a deadline and if not met, show Minnesota the door and invite Northern Illinois, the 5-7 team with the highest APR available and therefore next in line for a bowl berth under NCAA selection rules. But that poses plenty of logistical problems.

Among them: some NIU players have already left campus for break. But last night ESPN cited sources is saying it could be done – if the move was made swiftly. The running clock cited by ESPN is now down to 36 hours.

From this chair, the most likely outcome is for Minnesota’s president and AD to find some way for all parties to save face and enable the players to drop their boycott.  And for that to happen soon, perhaps as soon as today or Saturday.  But “likely” is also far from certain, with the situation in Minneapolis extremely fluid. 

So in the meantime and as Cougar Nation waits, how about those Huskies! (of Northern Illinois). 

And no, in case you were wondering, additional options such as moving the Holiday Bowl back a few days, or a potential replacement opponent with a record better than 5-7, look to be non-starters.  As is a tweet, with tongue assumed to be firmly planted in cheek, by this Cougar fan.
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