The College Football Playoff has announced its COVID-19 contingency plans for this season.
With the omicron variant spreading like wildfire throughout the United States, the College Football Playoff has shared its contingency plans for the two national semifinals, the national championship and two other New Year’s Six bowls.
“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 Executive Director of the College Football Playoff Bill Hancock. “These policies will better protect our students and staffs while providing clarity in the event worst-case scenarios result.”
The two national semifinal games this year are the Cotton Bowl Classic (No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati) and the Orange Bowl (No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia). This year’s Fiesta Bowl is between Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, while the Peach Bowl is between Michigan State and Pitt. The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl have conference tie-ins, so that further complicates things.
Let’s take a look at what the College Football Playoff’s contingency plans are to navigate COVID.
College Football Playoff games contingency plans
The College Football Playoff outlined five contingency plans involving those five games in question if a large number of players on a team cannot play the game on its scheduled date and time.
- Fiesta and Peach Bowls: If there are issues within Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Pitt, all parties involved (ESPN, CFP, bowl game, etc.) can look to reschedule the game. If a new date cannot be agreed upon, these two New Year’s Six bowls will be canceled.
- Cotton and Orange Bowls (National Semifinals)
- If one team cannot play, the unavailable team would forfeit and the other team would advance to the national championship game.
- If two teams are unable to play in the same national semifinal, then the other semifinal game would become the de facto national championship game in a winner-take-all scenario.
- If three teams are unable to play, then the fourth team would be declared the national champion.
- College Football Playoff National Championship: If COVID issues arise after the national semifinals, the national title can be rescheduled for a date no later than Jan. 14. If one team cannot play, that team will forfeit and the other team will be crowned national champions. Should both teams be unable to go, then there will be no national champion this year.
From a COVID booster standpoint, Alabama is supposedly 90 percent boostered as of Thursday. Both Georgia and Michigan have plans in place to offer vaccinated players their boosters in the middle of the week heading into the Christmas holiday.
There are a handful of policies that will be implemented heading into these New Year’s Six games. These include bowl game participants arriving no later than two days before the game (as opposed to the customary five), any bowl game events are now optional and all meetings with the media will be conducted virtually. Additionally, all conferences must accept each others protocols.
Ultimately, this whole thing is a mess. However, we have to respect the College Football Playoff for at least putting some contingency plan together, regardless of if all parties agree on it. Hopefully, Alabama, Cincinnati, Georgia and Michigan can play their three games amongst each other with as many healthy players as possible. We really just want to see a champion crowned.
With the New Year’s Six kicking off in a little over a week, now is the time to hunker down.