January 25, 2021

Sambaad Patra

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COVID-19 concerns threaten to disrupt national title game – AL.com

2 min read

In the latest twist of a season full of disruptions, there are COVID-19 related concerns that threaten to disrupt Monday’s national championship game between Alabama and Ohio State.

There are concerns related to Ohio State’s player availability for the game, according to sources, setting up an important decision less than a week from when the game is scheduled to kick off in Miami. Ohio State has informed key parties involved it could be without a position group due to COVID-19 testing and related protocols.

There have been discussions amongst the SEC, Big Ten, the College Football Playoff and the schools related to possibly postponing the Jan. 11 title game, sources said, though a final decision on the situation has yet to be reached. The CFP has already established Jan. 18 in Hard Rock Stadium as the makeup date should the title game have to be postponed. As of Tuesday afternoon, the hope and expectation is the game will be played as scheduled on Jan. 11.

After AL.com broke the news of the discussions, Ohio State AD Gene Smith told ESPN “at this point in time, we see the game being played.” Ohio State was without multiple players in a Sugar Bowl win over Clemson on Jan. 1.

“We’re following the same protocols we followed all season long,” Smith said. “We intend to play on January 11th, and we continue to communicate with the Big Ten and now the CFP, so at this point in time, we see the game being played. But who knows what tomorrow will bring? That’s COVID. We’re on track right now.”

CFP executive director Bill Hancock also told multiple reporters the game was still on as scheduled. Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne tweeted, “Ohio State AD Gene Smith and I have had multiple conversations. Both schools are focused on playing in the CFBPlayoff Championship Game on Jan. 11.”

John Talty is the sports editor and SEC Insider for Alabama Media Group. You can follow him on [email protected] Matt Zenitz is the senior SEC football reporter for Alabama Media Group. You can follow him on Twitter @MZenitz.

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