Ohio State head coach Ryan Day told reporters on Thursday that his team will "have plenty of players" for Monday's national championship game against Alabama despite ongoing COVID-19 concerns in the program.
Day did not provide specific numbers or player updates. The update comes after reports surfaced earlier this week about the possibility of delaying the title game one week due to COVID issues on the OSU side.
The Buckeyes have faced coronavirus issues dating back to late November when they canceled their game against Illinois and even played multiple games without key starters, including during the College Football Playoff semifinal victory over Clemson.
Day himself also tested positive and missed the Michigan State game.
"Any time you deal with that, and lose people it is a gut punch," Day said. "But it's not something we're not used to. We've had starters all over the place down. We've just found ways to work through it. You can feel sorry for yourself, or you can continue to work on and push through it.
"For us, that's why the story about this season is so amazing to me. We continue to push through despite all these difficult challenges along the way, and no different this week. We got a new set of challenges this week. We're going to have to figure it out, go down to Miami and play."
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said on Tuesday that the Buckeyes "continue to follow the same protocols as we have during the regular season," and "we plan to play Jan. 11."
On Thursday, reporters asked Alabama head coach Nick Saban about the importance of not having the title game postponed. He said "everybody respects the disruptions that we’ve had to endure throughout the season" and that "we have total respect for the safety of players."
Saban added that he thinks conversations occurred about "whether it was fair to continue to move the game back' due to COVID-19 issues. One of the biggest problems about moving the game is about school coming back in session, potentially bursting the makeshift postseason bubble teams created during winter break.
"I think there would have been some, probably I don’t know, difficult management issues if we would’ve moved the game back. Our school’s starting this next week," Saban continued. "We would’ve had 35,000 students coming back here. We played 12 games this year, so we have a lot of guys that have ground through a season, a lot of guys that are nicked up a little bit. Another week of practice would’ve been much more difficult for those guys, probably.
"Jan. 18 is the date people got to decide whether they’re going to go out for the draft or not. So just the whole timing of the whole thing would have been a tough management, but I would have put player safety on either team as the most important factor in this decision."