COLUMBIA, Mo. — COVID-19 has already disrupted the Missouri football team’s schedule this week. Could it happen again next week?
The Tigers have an unexpected bye this week because injuries and positive coronavirus tests depleted Vanderbilt’s roster and forced the Commodores to postpone Saturday’s game in Columbia.
Mizzou’s next game, Oct. 24 at Florida, could also be in danger.
A spike in COVID cases within Florida’s program has now moved a second Southeastern Conference game this week: Saturday’s Florida-Louisiana State game tentatively has been rescheduled for Dec. 12, the league announced Wednesday.
Florida athletics director Scott Stricklin said 21 Gators players are currently positive for the virus, including 18 scholarship players. Two assistant coaches also tested positive Tuesday, Gators coach Dan Mullen said Wednesday.
What about Florida’s game against Mizzou in 10 days? In COVID-19 times, that’s an eternity.
“I think that’s kind of what COVID 2020 has taught us, is every day there’s a new challenge,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said during Wednesday’s SEC conference call. “The only thing you can control is your mental toughness and how you’re going to respond to that challenge. We have no control over what’s happening down in Florida and wish them the best. Whatever the SEC deems is the next step for all of us is what we will adhere to and we put full trust in Commissioner (Greg) Sankey, Mark Womack in scheduling, William King and everybody else who’s making these decisions.”
Womack is the SEC’s executive associate commissioner and oversees football scheduling. King is the conference’s associate commissioner for legal affairs and compliance.
Since seeing a spike in positive cases Sunday, Florida has gone to daily testing this week, Mullen said.
At Vanderbilt, the Commodores have been close to the SEC roster threshold for several weeks, coach Derek Mason said. The SEC requires teams to have 53 scholarship players available to play a game and meet other position group thresholds. If teams don’t meet those minimums, upon approval by Sankey, the games can be rescheduled or declared a no contest.
Vanderbilt had just 56 scholarship players available for last Saturday’s game against South Carolina.
“We met the threshold, but coming out of that game, not only were we injured we knew testing could really wipe us out,” Mason said.
Should Florida’s COVID outbreak force the SEC to move next week’s game against Missouri, the league could send Vanderbilt to Columbia instead next Saturday. The Commodores are scheduled to have their bye that day. For now, Mizzou and Vanderbilt are slated to make up this week’s game on Dec. 12 in Columbia.
Dave Matter brings you the latest updates from the Mizzou sports scene.