Could we have a College Football champ win by forfeit??
Imagine the fallout if your 2021 College Football Champ wins the trophy because the other team forfeits.....
It could happen, especially if things continue progressing on the course they are currently following thanks in large part to the "Omicron" variant and plentiful...if somewhat inconsistently applied testing procedures continue registering positive cases.
Mind you the positive cases are coming mostly from individuals who have been fully vaccinated.
Just three days before Christmas and nine days before their Gator Bowl matchup with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Texas A&M announced they are pulling out of the game due to a lack of healthy players. Now mind you--the issue is not totally COVID related, the Aggies have several injured players, several who have announced they're leaving via the transfer portal and several who won't play to start preparing for the 2022 NFL Draft.
According to athletics director Ross Bjork, they Aggies currently have 38 scholarship players eligible for the game, which does not meet NCAA requirements.
Um, yeah, this is not good. The Gator Bowl is scrambling to find a replacement team (good luck) and it leaves the handful of fans who paid for tickets staring at potential refunds.
It also leaves ESPN without programming at midday on New Years Eve day. Not a huge deal, but an inconvenience for the company which puts on most of these games and has a large programming hole to fill.
Don't be surprised if other games get cancelled too.
Meanwhile, the group that puts on the College Football Playoff announced an updated list of their COVID-19 policies as we get into the heart of bowl season and the six games they put on in the event at least one team has COVID issues.
--The Fiesta and Peach Bowls would attempt to reschedule the game within the week. If they are unable to do that, the games would not be played.
--The National Semifinal games (Cotton and Orange Bowl) could be postponed or forfeited if both teams are unable to play. If one school is available but not the other, the team eligible to play would be declared the winner and advance.
--If this comes up in the Finals, they would attempt to reschedule the game as late as Jan. 14 (3 days after its scheduled). If one team is healthy, and the other isn't, the healthy team is declared the champion. If neither team is healthy and the game cannot be rescheduled, the title will not be awarded.
There are other impacts. Traditionally teams arrive 6/7 days ahead of their games. This year it will be two. Bowl events are not mandatory for anyone. All news conferences leading up to the game will be virtual and more.
As of Dec. 22, Alabama has had their two top assistants, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone test positive. Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban says both have mild cases and are expected to be cleared for their Cotton Bowl game vs. Cincinnati on Dec. 31.
Georgia backup QB J.T. Daniels and WR George Pickens have reportedly tested positive as well. Because any sort of information in Athens is guarded like a national security secret, nobody knows if anyone else has tested positive or what the impact will be for the Bulldogs.
Michigan announced their entire team will receive COVID booster shots (or at least those who don't have one) on Dec. 22. The Wolverines are hoping that will spare them a potential outbreak amongst the team and the coaching staff.
Yes, if you've read this far, I am fully aware many if not all of these more recent positive tests are either asymptomatic or very mild and that's awesome. But they are still positive tests. I'm not a medical expert, though I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express but right now, the goal with COVID remains trying to slow the spread. For some it's still a really serious thing.
I don't have the medical background to say whether sports teams or anyone else should "play through it" and neither do you. But I also know far too many people who've lost someone to the virus. And way too many with various immune system issues that it could potentially put them in the already overcrowded hospital or kill them.
And until that changes, I can't sit here and say "play through it".
Because of our collective stubbornness and #politics, far too many people have deliberately (and sometimes unwittingly) kept us from getting to the point where we don't have to sweat about things like "Omicron" or the infections skyrocketing when it gets cold outside.
In the meantime, we watch, we wait and we hold our collective breaths. Having forfeits or even delays in the College Football Playoff would be a horrible way to end what was one of the more adventurous and fun college football seasons we've had in several years.
It would be a shitty way for the players and coaches who've put in countless hours and jumped through continuously moving hurdles in order to make the season work to not finish what they started.
But yet here we are.
If you want to make a wish this holiday season, this one is probably a good one. Wish the Alabama, Cincinnati, Georgia and Michigan teams good health and good luck. If it all works out then we'll see them on New Years Eve.
And then we'll go from there.