Kasim Edebali was confused. When he looked at his phone on Tuesday, he had multiple messages from friends asking him a question he didn’t understand.
“They were like ‘Kasim, is there a game this weekend?’ ” he said by phone after practice Wednesday. “And I was like, ‘Why wouldn’t there be?’ ”
The fifth-year senior defensive lineman, like many Boston College (2-2, 1-1 ACC) players and coaches, had been so focused on the task at hand -- preparing for Saturday’s game against Army (2-3) -- that he failed to see that it might not happen.
The Defense Department on Tuesday announced it was suspending athletic competitions involving the three service academies due to the government shutdown caused by the budget impasse in Congress, meaning Air Force’s game at Navy and Army’s game at BC were in danger of cancellation. And while ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported Wednesday afternoon that the academies, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, had decided to play the games as scheduled, pending approval by the secretary of defense, the status of the Eagles’ homecoming game was still up in the air by midafternoon.
“Quite honestly we don’t really care,” Edebali said of the consternation over the possible cancellation. “We’re preparing and trying not to get distracted. We have to play a game and that’s what we’re focused on.”
BC coach Steve Addazio said much the same on his weekly ACC conference call Wednesday.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I'm preparing for a game on Saturday, as I'm sure [the Black Knights] are. ... I'm sure those kids want to compete and play on that field because they're competitors, just like our guys. But there's more to it than that. Out of respect for that, I think I leave it right there.”
Addazio said he didn’t find out about the government shutdown’s possible side effects until after practice on Tuesday.
“I didn't know anything was going on until yesterday afternoon,” he said Wednesday. “I really haven't even paid any attention to it. In my mind, we're playing on Saturday. That's not trying to talk myself into something; that's really how I feel.
“I haven't spent one second thinking of anything different.”
And while he has started the process of preparing a backup plan in case the game is cancelled, BC athletic director Brad Bates said he’s working with Army AD Boo Corrigan to find a solution.
The Eagles offered financial assistance to the Black Knights to pay for the team’s travel, but were told “it is not a simple dollar-and-cent issue,” Bates wrote in an e-mail to ESPNBoston.com on Tuesday.
Bates said Wednesday that he expects to have a final decision on the game by noon on Thursday.
If a solution isn’t found and the game is cancelled, Edebali said it would be a big letdown.
“Obviously it’d be disappointing,” he said. “The guys just want to play. We have a lot of confidence, we keep building our confidence every week. It would be really unfortunate not to come out and play ball.
“I think this team is ready to take another step and we want to take that step by beating Army.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.