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College Football Playoff announces COVID-19 post-season policies

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 4:42 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As COVID-19 cases are rising, the College Football Playoff management committee has announced a series of actions it will take to protect student-athlete health and safety.

“As we prepare for the Playoff, it’s wise and necessary to put into place additional precautions to protect those who will play and coach the games,” said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the CFP. “These policies will better protect our students and staffs while providing clarity in the event worst-case scenarios result.”

The committee released policies for the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl and Peach Bowl if a team determines they’re unable to compete in the game due to an insufficient number of athletes are available to play because of COVID-19.

  • Fiesta and Peach Bowls – The CFP, bowl game and ESPN shall attempt to identify an alternate date for the game within one week of the scheduled date; if no date can be identified, the game would be considered no contest.
  • Playoff Semifinals (Cotton and Orange Bowls) if one team is unavailable to play – The unavailable team shall forfeit the game and its opponent would advance to the national championship game.
  • Playoff Semifinals (Cotton and Orange Bowls) if both teams are unavailable to play in one semifinal – The semifinal game would be declared “no contest” and the team winning the other semifinal game would be declared the CFP National Champion.
  • Playoff Semifinals (Cotton and Orange Bowls) if three teams are unavailable to play – The semifinal game in which two teams are unable to play would be declared “no contest.” In the other semifinal game, the team unable to play shall forfeit the game and its opponent would be declared CFP National Champion.
  • CFP National Championship – If the team’s unavailability is determined after the Playoff Semifinals have been conducted, the national championship game in Indianapolis may be rescheduled to no later than Friday, January 14. If one team is able to play and the other is not and the game cannot be rescheduled or is rescheduled and cannot be played, then the team unable to play shall forfeit the game and the other team shall be declared CFP National Champion. If both teams are unable to play on either an original or rescheduled date, then the game shall be declared “no contest” and the CFP National Championship shall be vacated for this season.

According to College Football Playoff officials, teams have the option to arrive at the bowl site no later than two days before the game, rather than the customary five days before the game.

On Wednesday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban confirmed that offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and offensive line coach Doug Marrone tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Cotton Bowl. He said both have “very mild symptoms and are home isolating while following all appropriate guidelines” and added they “anticipate both being able to coach” in the Cotton Bowl.

“We certainly wish we were not in this position,” said Hancock, “but the only responsible thing is to take whatever actions we can reasonably take to better protect those who play and coach the game.”

Alabama is set to meet Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas New Year’s Eve with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. Cincinnati is the first non-Power Five conference team to reach the College Football Playoff.

Michigan and Georgia will face off in the Orange Bowl in Miami New Year’s Eve with kickoff set for 6:30 p.m..

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