Playoff committee's COVID 'solution' is as laughable as it is wrong
I read it once. Twice. Three times. Even as I write this, I’m not sure whether I should actually believe the College Football Playoff committee’s solution should a COVID-19 outbreak strike a team participating in the semifinals.
For good measure, I’m including the document to make sure I haven’t lost my marbles.
????????: The CFP Management Committee today announced a series of new actions it will take to protect student-athlete health and safety as the omicron virus has spread in advance of the College Football Playoff.
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) December 22, 2021
Yep. It’s real.
According to college football’s “brain trust,” the following policies are now in play for the CFP semifinals and affiliate New Year’s 6 bowl games. And somehow the people who were foolish enough to schedule games on New Year’s Eve have outdone themselves.
CFP COVID-19 cancelation policies, effective Dec. 22
- Fiesta and Peach Bowls – The CFP, bowl game and ESPN shall attempt to identify an alternate date for the game within one week of the scheduled date; if no date can be identified, the game would be considered no contest.
- Playoff Semifinals (Cotton and Orange Bowls) if one team is unavailable to play – The unavailable team shall forfeit the game and its opponent would advance to the national championship game.
- Playoff Semifinals (Cotton and Orange Bowls) if both teams are unavailable to play in one semifinal – The semifinal game would be declared “no contest” and the team winning the other semifinal game would be declared the CFP National Champion.
- Playoff Semifinals (Cotton and Orange Bowls) if three teams are unavailable to play – The semifinal game in which two teams are unable to play would be declared “no contest.” In the other semifinal game, the team unable to play shall forfeit the game and its opponent would be declared CFP National Champion.
- CFP National Championship – If the team’s unavailability is determined after the Playoff Semifinals have been conducted, the national championship game in Indianapolis may be rescheduled to no later than Friday, January 14. If one team is able to play and the other is not and the game cannot be rescheduled or is rescheduled and cannot be played, then the team unable to play shall forfeit the game and the other team shall be declared CFP National Champion. If both teams are unable to play on either an original or rescheduled date, then the game shall be declared “no contest” and the CFP National Championship shall be vacated for this season.
Bowls are somehow more important than Playoff
In case you got lost in the mumbo-jumbo, here’s the thing about this policy that makes no sense whatsoever: if COVID prevents a team from playing in the Fiesta or Peach Bowl, they get a week to get healthy and play the game.
If COVID prevents a team from playing the Playoff semifinals — the games actually being played to determine a national championship — that team’s season is over. No attempt will be made to reschedule.
So imagine this scenario, which is actually possible.
Michigan State has too many players in protocols to play Dec. 31, but the Spartans are good to go to play Pitt in the Peach Bowl on Jan. 6.
Michigan, Alabama and Georgia are all unable to play in the semifinals but would have been able to if given the opportunity to schedule the game a week later. Cincinnati is crowned national champion. (Hey, that’s one way to eliminate the SEC!)
And thus we have a Peach Bowl — already so meaningless that the best player for each team is sitting out — that will be played after we’ve crowned a national championship that wasn’t decided on the field.
What in the hell are we doing here? And how did anyone decide this was a worthwhile solution to a real (potential) problem? Furthermore, how does anyone making such a ridiculous decision earn a salary?
Every effort should be made to complete CFP
This isn’t that hard. It really isn’t. But because it’s college football, someone had to present the most idiotic outcome as the answer. Which is not surprising for an institution that took nearly 150 years to figure out a playoff structure.
I don’t think I’ve seen anything dumber in my life, and I look in the mirror every day.
There is no defensible reason that the participants in the CFP semifinals are not being provided the same opportunity to reschedule as the teams playing in glorified exhibition contests.
I understand the need to place a Jan. 14 deadline on the championship game. The thing can’t be floating indefinitely into the spring. And there’s a chance the Colts will need to use their home stadium that weekend, which is the scheduled start of the NFL playoffs.
But if you can move the championship game to accommodate for the twists and turns the Omicron variant may bring us, why on earth isn’t the same solution possible for the semifinal Orange and Cotton Bowls?
If stadium availability after Dec. 31 is the issue, move the damn things on campus. Somehow FCS teams are capable of hosting playoff games on a week’s notice. There’s no reason their FBS counterparts with far greater manpower can’t match those logistical capabilities. And I have a feeling Luke Fickell and Cincinnati would prefer visiting Bryant-Denny Stadium over having a once-in-a-lifetime season ended by circumstances beyond their control.
Fortunately, there’s enough time before the semifinals for the participating teams to get boostered up if they haven’t already. Mitigation strategies are being put in place. The nightmare scenario is certainly avoidable.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the CFP committee’s contingency plan is laughable and downright embarrassing.