Big Ten football teams unable to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak could be setting themselves up to miss the College Football Playoff.
On Monday, the Big Ten announced that any team unable to play a conference game due to COVID-19 will be forced to forfeit the game and receive a loss. If both teams are unable to play, the game will go down as a no contest.
“In collaboration and communication with the Big Ten Conference Athletic Directors, Chancellors and Presidents, the Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, and the Sports Medicine Committee – effective today – the conference has determined that if one of its member institutions is unable to play a conference contest due to COVID-19, that contest shall be declared a forfeit and will not be rescheduled,” the Big Ten said in a statement.
“That contest shall be considered a loss for the team impacted by COVID-19 and a win for its opponent in the conference standings. If both of the two competing teams are unable to participate in a scheduled Conference competition due to COVID-19 and as a result the competition is unable to occur on the calendar day on which it is scheduled, the competition shall be considered a ‘no contest.'”
Teams had been anticipating this decision, but now it is official.
Last season, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, multiple teams dealt with COVID-19 outbreaks and were forced to reschedule or cancel games. This year, they will not have that choice and it could prove costly.
The good news, however, is that the COVID-19 vaccine is now widely available — with the Pfizer vaccine receiving full FDA approval — so outbreaks should be less damaging. We will just have to wait and see.