The season ahead for Mercer football

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Image: Jen Jones

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many collegiate sports being put on pause, and Mercer’s athletic conference, the Southern Conference, has canceled in-conference games this fall. However, Mercer Football fans are in luck because the team will still be playing games this fall.

The Bears will be playing against Jacksonville State University on Oct. 10 and will face West Point on Oct. 24. Both games will be played on the road.

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks are coming off of a 6-6 season, maintaining a similar record to Mercer’s 4-8 mark in 2019. The Gamecocks did notch a 5-2 record at home, according to JSU Athletics, so the Bears may be at a disadvantage playing on the road.

Army West Point is coming off of a 5-8 season in 2019, according to Army Athletics. That 2019 season included an overtime loss on the road against #7 Michigan and a home loss against rival Navy, so the team at Army is likely a force to be reckoned with for the Bears. Mercer may have a slight advantage due to schedule, however, as Army will have played seven games by the time Mercer plays them in October. Mercer only has two games currently scheduled for the 2020 season.

Mercer Football is led by a new head football coach this season, Drew Cronic. Cronic had a 25-3 record at Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he was the head football coach from 2018 to 2019. Lenoir-Rhyne, a Division II program, went 3-8 in 2017 before Cronic guided them to a 25-3 record over the course of the next two seasons according to a Mercer athletics press release. 

“It is a dream come true to be back in my home state of Georgia and to be working at a great institution like Mercer University,” Cronic said in the press release back in December 2019. “I am excited for this opportunity and I am looking forward to working with President Underwood, Jim Cole and the rest of the Mercer Family.”

Cronic’s hiring came after Mercer parted ways with former coach Bobby Lamb as a result of a losing campaign in 2019, according to the Macon Telegraph. Lamb accumulated a 41-39 record as Mercer’s head coach, beginning in 2013. Lamb’s run as coach included Mercer’s return from a 72-year hiatus in 2013, where the Bears went 10-2 and set the NCAA record for most wins by a first-year program, according to the Telegraph.

Regardless of who will be coaching the Bears on the gridiron, the COVID-19 pandemic has led the Southern Conference to postpone all athletics through the calendar year. The Mercer football team can schedule up to four games for this fall. The Southern Conference will potentially postpone fall sports seasons to spring 2021.