College football playoffs warn teams could lose due to virus

The resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic jeopardized the final weeks of the college football season on Wednesday, with one team pulled out of the bowl game and four national title contenders warned they could lose if they couldn’t compete on time.

Minutes after Texas A&M announced its withdrawal from next week’s Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, college football playoffs said he would not reschedule it to December. 31 semi-final matches involving No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati and No. 2 Michigan plays No. 3 Georgia, even though it details a protocol that could turn the tournament around before it even starts.

“As we prepare for the playoffs, it’s prudent and necessary to take extra precautions to protect those who will be playing and coaching games,” said Playoffs chief executive Bill Hancock. “This policy will better protect our students and staff and also clear things up in the worst case.”

Under the policy that playoff officials laid out on Wednesday, the team that will not be able to play in the semi-finals on December 1st. 31 would lose, allowing his prospective opponent to automatically move on to the national title game, which is scheduled for January. 10 in Indianapolis.

If both teams in one of the semi-final matches prove unable to compete, the winner of the other semi-final game will be declared national champion.

However, there is some flexibility for the title game itself. Playoff officials have said league matches could be rescheduled for a few days, but must be played no later than January. 14. If a team is unable to compete even after a delay, its opponent will be named champion; If neither team can make it to Indianapolis, the playoffs say, there will be no champion this season.

Playoff officials also said they are changing plans for their games and will allow teams to arrive just two days before kickoff instead of the traditional five. According to the playoffs, related events will be optional for players and coaches, and press conferences will return to the virtual formats that have become commonplace for the 2020 season.

“We certainly wish we weren’t in this position, but our only responsibility is to take whatever action we can reasonably take to better protect those who play and coach the game,” Hancock said.

Playoff teams have not reported significant outbreaks, although Alabama said Wednesday its offensive coordinator and offensive line coach tested positive for the virus.

Texas A&M said its exit from the Gator Bowl came after a surge in cases left it without enough players. If Gator Bowl officials fail to find a replacement for a team that faces No. 17 Wake Forest, Dec. 31 games could be the first bowl this season to be abruptly canceled due to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, we just don’t have enough scholarships to field a team,” Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M coach, said in a statement.

The university said that in addition to problems related to the virus, the composition of its team was limited due to injuries not related to the pandemic.

Dave Clawson, coach of Wake Forest, said he hopes the bowl organizers can find a replacement team to take on his team, which has a 10-3 record and advanced to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

“While we are disappointed that we do not have the opportunity to play the talented Texas A&M football team next week in Jacksonville, our student-athletes and staff are still very excited and eager to play,” Clawson said in a statement. He added, “Our student athletes, especially our high school students, deserve this last opportunity to compete as a team for a chance to win a championship.”

At least one other team, Miami, is known to be following health and safety protocols due to virus concerns. Miami said this week that they hope to play in the Sun Bowl against Washington State on December 1st. 31.