Ahead of next Monday’s national championship, there have been some suggestions that the game could be postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 issues within Ohio State’s program. The Buckeyes are set to face Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami Gardens, after the two teams beat Clemson and Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff semifinal, respectively.
Both teams insist that they plan to play on the Jan. 11 scheduled date. However, there are some lingering reports that the Big Ten could push for the delay. Just today, Dan Patrick said that the Buckeyes could be “very close to the availability limit,” with one full position group being a concern for the team.
Despite the move into the postseason, teams are still being governed by their conference testing protocols. Last week, that meant Ohio State and Clemson, for example, being on different testing schedules in the lead-up to the semifinal game. Today, Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked about the potential delay due to the Buckeyes’ reported issues.
“I think everybody respects the disruptions that we’ve had to endure throughout the season,” Saban said. “We have total respect for the safety of players. If there were, and I think there were, some issues relative to COVID, there were discussions as to whether it was fair to continue or to move the game back and all that… I think there would have been some… difficult management issues if we would’ve moved the game back.”
Saban cites the start of Alabama’s spring semester, which obviously makes it more difficult to manage the coronavirus on campus. He also mentioned his own team’s handling of the virus, which was relatively solid given the team’s ability to get 12 games in, although Saban did contract COVID-19 himself.
“Our school’s starting this next week. We would’ve had 35,000 students coming back here. We played 12 games this year, so we have a lot of guys that have ground through the season, a lot of guys that are nicked up a little bit. Another week of practice would’ve been much more difficult for those guys, probably.”
Nick Saban stopped short of calling out Ohio State or suggesting anything untoward here, but he clearly wants this game played Monday.
The Crimson Tide and Buckeyes are scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET on Monday. Hopefully that game can be played with relatively full, healthy rosters and we end this season ona. high note.