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Omicron rattles college football bowl games: Contingency plans announced, Texas A&M backs out
AUSTIN, Texas – College football is on shaky ground amid the latest COVID variant spread.
Wednesday, Texas A&M announced it was pulling out of the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl because of COVID-19 issues within the program and season-ending injuries of its players. Texas A&M was scheduled to face Wake Forest in a December 31 bowl game in Jacksonville, Florida. ESPN reported Wednesday afternoon, Wake Forest and NCAA organizers were looking into replacing A&M with another team
Due to a combination of COVID-19 issues within the program, as well as season-ending injuries, the Texas A&M football roster is not in a position to safely participate in the upcoming Dec. 31 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl against Wake Forest.— Texas A&M Football (@AggieFootball) December 22, 2021
ESPN.com reported Wednesday, bowl game organizers were "aggressively" working with the NCAA to find a replacement team. Wake Forest was working with Gator Bowl organizers and the ACC to find an opponent, ESPN reported.
Around the same time Texas A&M announced it was backing out, the College Football Playoff Management Committee announced contingency plans for the upcoming Cotton, Fiesta, Orange and Peach bowl games.
“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.”
Scroll to the bottom of the page to read the policies.
LSU has not released any changes to its scheduled bowl game, the TaxAct Texas Bowl, at NRG Stadium in Houston on January 4. The 8 p.m. kickoff on ESPN showcases LSU vs. Kansas State. Although, LSU line backer Damone Clark posted on Twitter and insinuated he will not be playing in the game. He did not elaborate.
December 22, 2021
For the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange and Peach games, the CFP also announced event attendance before games will be optional for teams, news conference will be virtual and teams will arrange for regular-season testing styles at the bowl games. Every person with access to the playing field must have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of kickoff or be fully vaccinated.
Non-essential personnel will not be allowed on the playing fields, which includes friends and family members, “special guests” and sponsors, the CFP said Wednesday.
“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.”
From the College Football Playoff Management Committee:
The following are the policies for the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl and Peach Bowl if an institution determines that it is unable to compete in the game because 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.
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