SAN ANTONIO — This has been a tough year for UIW head coach Eric Morris.
"You know, I've been the bearer of bad news to our players and coaches for five or six months now," he says.
The pandemic has hurt, but signs of positivity are blossoming in the Cardinals locker room.
"What we can't do is play football right now, but with the schedule coming out we know we will," junior linebacker Gerald Bowie III said.
An unenviable position just turned into a unique opportunity for UIW's football team.
"They're excited," Morris said. "So, it was nice for me to tell them some good news and say, 'Hey, we have a season.'"
The team's official roughly-two-month, six-game schedule spans from February to April. The team will get its 15 padded practices this fall, with camp beginning in January for the first of two 2021 seasons.
"It's great. We've been here working. We've been trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's finally here," Bowie said.
"These kids deserve a chance to play," Morris added. "They're having to watch other teams play on TV right now, which is not fun, but yeah, there is a bunch of excitement."
Seven Southland teams will compete for the automatic qualifying spot into the FCS playoffs. Winning the conference is of the utmost importance because the postseason is going from 24 teams to 16 teams. There are only five at-large bids up for grabs.
"(We have) one goal and that's to win the conference and compete for a National Championship," Bowie said. "That's the only goal. That's the only thing we care about here at (UIW)."
The Cardinals also have a rare chance to provide football for fans needing their fix after the NFL season.
"I've seen San Antonio get behind spring football before with the (AAF), so hopefully we can do a good job of getting (the community) out and getting some good crowds and putting on a good show for San Antonio to watch," Morris said.
With preparations underway, players are happy to see a familiar routine again.
"We're slowly getting into a normal Incarnate Word offseason," Bowie said.
And that is good news.