Dec 28, 2021; San Diego, CA, USA; A general overall aerial view of the football field at Petco Park prior to the Holiday Bowl between the NC State Wolfpack and the UCLA Bruins. The game was cancelled because of  COVID-19 protocols within the UCLA program. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Holiday Bowl officially off as efforts to replace UCLA fail

Last-ditch efforts to save the 2021 Holiday Bowl officially ended Wednesday as organizers were unable to find a replacement team to face No. 18 NC State.

Due to COVID-19 issues, UCLA withdrew from Tuesday’s scheduled contest in San Diego less than six hours before kickoff at Petco Park.

“Sadly we are announcing that the 2021 SDCCU Holiday Bowl is cancelled,” read a statement posted to social media Wednesday by bowl officials. “… We look forward to coming back in 2022 and putting on one heck of a show!”

NC State, which finished 9-3, issued a statement from athletic director Boo Corrigan on social media along with a photo of Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren holding the Holiday Bowl trophy.

“After exhausting every possibility and contacting numerous schools personally and through the Holiday Bowl, we have no other option than to end our season,” Corrigan said. “As disappointing as this stunning turn of events was, we must not let it diminish the accomplishments of our 2021 football team or forget the moments of joy that they brought us.

“I commend Coach Doeren, his staff and especially our players for making great decisions and doing right things to ensure that they were ready to play every week and all the way until yesterday. I can’t wait to watch them run it back in 2022.”

The Holiday Bowl was the fifth game called off due to COVID-19 concerns, joining the Fenway Bowl, Military Bowl, Hawaii Bowl and Arizona Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA;    UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) runs for 17 yards and a first down against the California Golden Bears in the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Holiday Bowl canceled due to UCLA’s COVID protocols

Tuesday’s Holiday Bowl in San Diego was the latest bowl game to be called off amid the pandemic, with UCLA unable to compete against No. 18 North Carolina State due to COVID-19 protocols.

UCLA made the announcement roughly 5 1/2 hours before the game was scheduled to kick off at Petco Park.

The Bruins’ defensive line group was “decimated” by COVID-19 and did not have enough players able to play, according to a report from The Athletic.

“Heartbroken to not be able to compete one more time this season,” NC State football’s Twitter account posted Tuesday. “We were informed a short time ago that our opponent would be unable to play this evening.”

The Holiday bowl was the fifth game to be canceled due to COVID-19, following the Fenway Bowl, Military Bowl, Hawaii Bowl and Arizona Bowl. The Gator Bowl was in limbo after Texas A&M backed out, but Rutgers was added as a replacement to face Wake Forest.

Also, the Sun Bowl was in limbo after Miami pulled out. But when Boise State dropped out of the Arizona Bowl on Monday, Central Michigan moved from the Arizona to Sun to keep the latter bowl game intact.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2016; San Diego , CA, USA; General overall view of the National Funding Holiday Bowl logo at midfield during the 2016 Holiday Bowl between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Washington State Cougars at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Holiday Bowl canceled due to pandemic

The SDCCU Holiday Bowl, traditionally one of the biggest pre-New Year’s Day postseason football games, will not be held this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers of the San Diego-based game tweeted, “We look forward to coming back stronger than ever at the 2021 SDCCU Holiday Bowl!”

Holiday Bowl CEO Mark Neville added in a statement, “This has been the most difficult decision our board has ever had to make since our bowl game started in 1978. While it’s not the decision we wanted to make, it’s the right decision for our non-profit association and the community for the long term.”

The 2021 Holiday Bowl was due to match up teams from the Pac-12 Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Pac-12 said in a statement, “The Pac-12 shares in the Holiday Bowl’s disappointment that the current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of this year’s game. The Holiday Bowl is a premier and historic post-season game loved by fans across the country, and we look forward to the 2021 and future editions of the game. We will continue to work with our Bowl partners on our 2020 lineup.”

The site of the Holiday Bowl moving forward is uncertain. The game’s traditional home, SDCCU Stadium (formerly known as Jack Murphy Stadium and Qualcomm Stadium), is due for demolition, leaving the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park a likely football destination.

Three other 2020 bowl games previously were canceled due to the pandemic: the Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif.; the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau; and the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu.

–Field Level Media