Could the Vanderbilt Commodores football contest on Saturday against the Missouri Tigers be in jeopardy of being postponed? That's the question that will follow the Commodores and SEC until a final decision is evident.
While the exact reasons for multiple Commodores players being inactive for Saturday's home loss to South Carolina, the prevailing speculation is the absences are COVID-related.
Against South Carolina, the Commodores had 56 scholarship players dressed and available to participate in their 41-7 home loss. Southeastern Conference rules mandate that a minimum of 53 players be available for each game, meaning that Vanderbilt was treading dangerously close to the bottom limit.
While there are currently 102 players listed on the Vanderbilt roster, only 70 are scholarship athletes. Should the number of those 70 players drop below 53, the conference could choose to postpone and reschedule this matchup.
Keep in mind that there is a built-in bye-week for the entire conference on Dec.12, the week ahead of the SEC Championship Game, which is currently scheduled for Dec. 19 in Atlanta.
While still speculation, if players who missed Saturday's game were COVid-related, then those same players would be unlikely for this week's game as well. That could mean that if there were additional positive tests or other players traced to have been in direct contact with those players who have positive results, those players could be forced out as well and drop that number below the league minimum.
The fact that there is an added week on Dec.12 is positive for the Commodores, given that this contest against Missouri is perhaps their only remaining chance to find a victory this season.
Coaches, players, and fans alike are certainly awaiting news of what will happen this week though the remaining team members will practice in preparations for a game that might not happen this week.
It's certainly not an ideal situation, but then not much about this entire year has been excellent. It's just one more obstacle for head coach Derek Mason and his staff to deal with as they try to find a victory against arguably the most challenging schedule in school history.