CFP Announces Contingencies for Semifinals, National Title Game amid COVID-19 Surge

Adam WellsDecember 22, 2021

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 11: A general view of the CPF National Championship midfield logo before the College Football Playoff National Championship football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes at Hard Rock Stadium on January 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Amid rising COVID-19 cases around the country, the College Football Playoff management committee has announced contingency plans in the event of an outbreak involving any of the four teams vying for a national title. 

Per an official release from the College Football Playoff, if either of the semifinal games needs to be postponed, "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 unavailable team would forfeit the game and the opposing team would advance to the College Football Playoff Championship Game. 

If both teams in one semifinal game are unavailable to play, the winner of the other semifinal game will be declared the College Football Playoff champion. If three semifinal teams are unavailable, the one available team will be declared the national champion. 

In the event of an outbreak involving one or both of the semifinal winners, the CFP Championship Game "may be rescheduled to no later than Friday, January 14" with the possibility of a vacated CFP title if both teams are unable to play:

"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."

Wednesday's announcement comes on the same day Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported Texas A&M had to withdraw from the Gator Bowl because the program doesn't have enough players available, in part due to COVID-19. 

Dellenger noted officials for the Gator Bowl are trying to find a replacement team to face Wake Forest in the Dec. 31 game, but "the only way that's possible is if another bowl is impacted."

The committee also added some other policies in an attempt to potentially reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of the virus. 

Teams now have the option of traveling to the site of their bowl game no later than two days before the contest, and all media conferences will be held virtually. 

"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," CFP executive director Bill Hancock said. "These policies will better protect our students and staffs while providing clarity in the event worst-case scenarios result."

The playoff semifinals are scheduled to be played on Dec. 31. Alabama and Cincinnati will meet in the Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. Michigan will take on Georgia in the Orange Bowl in Miami. 

In the event of a potential rescheduling for either or both games, the latest they could be played is Jan. 7. 

The College Football Playoff Championship Game is scheduled for Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.