The 2020 college football season will be unlike any other the sport has ever seen. From depleted crowds to never before seen gameday protocols and health regulations, each conference is taking every precaution to make sure a season can move forward without a hitch.
It's a goal that will be difficult to accomplish which is why the worst possible scenarios also must be planned for. One of those lingering questions is what will happen if a college game must be postponed due to an outbreak or exposure of COVID-19 to a particular team.
A few games have already been postponed as UL-Monroe, NC State and East Carolina have moved back their season openers after having to pause workouts due to the virus. In a recent story on Sports Illustrated, national writer Ross Dellenger reported that the Big-12 is the conference closest to figuring out a "designated number of healthy, eligible players at each position and overall as a team."
The preferred option is to have at least 53 players available for a game and if finalized, a number of conferences, including the SEC could adopt a similar model according to Dellenger. The problem is that some teams have seen entire position groups forced to miss time.
This closely pertains to LSU as all but four offensive linemen were quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure last week.
"There are a couple of guys who get positive, maybe more, but there are some guys who are going to be around them and have to get quarantined just like we did," Orgeron said on Tuesday. "But it's good that it happened now and not in the middle of the season. It may come up with another unit. We just have to deal with it."
What would it take for a team to have to postpone a game? That still comes with a wide array of differing opinions as the decisions of potential "forfeits" will be left up to each individual conference according to Dellenger. Most coaches that made predictions on minimum roster size were in agreement that the 53-60 roster size would be the bare minimum they'd be comfortable playing in a game.
“The process of determining whether a team isn’t or is eligible to play a game will run through the conference office. Each athletic director will report their team’s COVID-19-related numbers, maybe a day before the game, and the conference commissioner—potentially with guidance from a medical advisory board—will determine a course of action: play the game or suspend it indefinitely, before ultimately rescheduling it or ruling it as a no-contest,” Dellenger wrote.
How this strategy ultimately works remains to be seen but we've reached the eleventh hour for these decisions to start being made. With the SEC not kicking off until Sept. 26, any potential postponements to a game will be extremely hard to reschedule, as there's only one week between the end of the regular season and the SEC Championship game on Dec. 19.