COVID-19 continues to impact college football

Cancellations throughout SEC and Pac-12 as cases rise across programs

by emma stevens, staff writer
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide have dealt with a wealth of COVID-19 cases this year. The Crimson Tide game last Saturday against reigning national champion LSU was cancelled due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 continues to take a heavy toll on college football, causing fans and spectators to raise questions about the fate of the rest of the season and forcing conference commissioners to consider moving the College Football Playoff National Championship game. 

As of Monday, 68 college football games have either been cancelled or postponed, 46 of which were conference games.

 Questions are beginning to arise, concerning how the rest of the season will unfold in the alarmingly short amount of time left between now and the scheduled conference final games.   

The SEC has four conference games to make up between now and their scheduled conference final on Dec. 19—one of which is No. 1 Alabama vs. LSU.  

Ole Miss also has two postponed conference games to play, one against Texas A&M and the other against Tennessee. 

These conference games could have a major impact on who proceeds to the playoffs, so cancelling the games is not a feasible option.

The Pac-12 is also struggling to play their games as scheduled. 

This past week, California was scheduled to play Arizona State and UCLA was set to face Utah, but both games were cancelled after Arizona State’s head coach Herm Edwards tested positive for COVID-19, and Utah failed to meet the threshold of enough players due to positive cases and contact tracing. 

Shortly after the cancellation of these two games, the Pac-12 scheduled California and UCLA to face each other this past Sunday, the Bruins beating the Golden Bears 34-10.   

If the season stays on its current track, it seems unlikely that any playoff games can proceed as they are currently scheduled. 

Last week alone, 15 games were cancelled or postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests impacting at least one of the teams set to play. 

On Sunday, ESPN senior writer Heather Dinich commented on the lack of games being played and how it will impact the season saying, “The question is not will it snowball, but how much it will snowball.” 

Despite the continued cancellations and postponement of games, conference commissions have yet to move their conference championship games. 

Of the Power Five conferences, the Big 12 conference championship is scheduled to occur the earliest on Dec. 12. 

The Pac-12 championship game remains scheduled for December 18 with the SEC, ACC and Big Ten championships all happening on the following day. That leaves them with about a month to make up all the previously scheduled games that were postponed and continue to play the games that are scheduled. 

The Pac-12 conference commission Larry Scott has begun to consider postponing the conference championships and thus the College Football Playoffs. 

Other major conference commissions seem less keen on the idea of postponing but recognize that changing may eventually be necessary. 

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey when asked about postponing the playoffs said, “We’re all going to have to be flexible, so I’m not going to hypothesize about change, but I’m not inattentive to the potential that change may need to occur.”

As of now, the College Football Playoff semifinal games are scheduled to be played on Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles and at the Superdome in New Orleans, La. The championship game is set for Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla.