On Tuesday, December 21st, it was announced Georgia’s backup quarterback JT Daniels tested positive for COVID-19, the news was first reported by the Athens Banner-Herald.
The news was also confirmed by UGASports. Additionally, according to a report by UGASports, Daniels, who is vaccinated, will be back in time for the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens on December 31.
Wide receiver George Pickens has entered the COVID protocol after testing positive. However, his vaccination status is uncertain. On Wednesday, it was announced Georgia would offer booster shots in the fight against COVID-19.
The ‘Dawgs have re-instituted mask mandates within their facilities in an effort to mitigate the risks from the emerging omicron variant. Wednesday, the team offered booster shots to team members.
Conversely, the Michigan Wolverines have not had any COVID-related setbacks since last season. Also, they received their booster shots Wednesday. Right tackle Andrew Steuber says the protocols and fear of missing the biggest game in their careers to this point has played a role in maintaining the Wolverines’ collective discipline heading into the Orange Bowl.
“That’s been a growing concern of ours,” Stueber said. “We’ve implemented masks in meetings, maintaining social distancing. A lot of people are taking their meals to go now, not really sitting too much. It’s a lot safer now out there – a lot of students have left the campus. The booster’s out there now. We have a full-team booster shot tomorrow, so that will be good. I think everyone understands the gravity of the situation, to have an outbreak now would be devastating to a lot of people. So understanding the concern there is a big thing, so we’ve taken the proper precautions there.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the College Football Playoff Committee issued a statement which addresses the worst-case scenarios which would necessitate the postponement, even forfeiture, of games if teams are unable to participate due to COVID-19 considerations.
Here are the following three scenarios relative to the College Football Playoff semifinals:
- 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.
Georgia is scheduled to travel to Miami on Sunday as they prepare for their College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against Michigan. However, playoff teams will have the option of arriving just 48 hours before kickoff on New Year’s Eve.
Media days at each game site will be held virtually out of an abundance of precaution.
“As we prepare for the Playoff, it’s wise and necessary to put into place additional precautions to protect those who will play and coach the games,” College Football Playoff Executive Director Hancock said in a statement. “These policies will better protect our students and staffs while providing clarity in the event worst-case scenarios result.”
Per the email, the changes were made based on a recommendation from the Management Committee during a video teleconference on Tuesday.
Most telling in the email, is the possible scenario of a no-contest in the national championship game.
“If a 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.”
“We certainly wish we were not in this position,” said Hancock, “but the only responsible thing is to take whatever actions we can reasonably take to better protect those who play and coach the game.”