Due to COVID-19, there's a chance this year's national champion could be crowned by default, or not at all.
The College Football Playoff announced its COVID-19 postseason policies on Wednesday, and if any of the teams involved in this year's playoff have any COVID issues, things could get a little wild.
Basically, if a team is unable to play a semifinal game, they forfeit. If both teams are unable to play in the same semifinal game, both teams forfeit and the other semifinal game becomes the de facto national title game. If three teams are unable to play in the semifinal game, then the lone remaining team will be crowned the national champion by default.
There's even a chance that no national champion is named this season at all.
Here's the full policy.
- 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.
It's worth noting that these policies do not apply to either the Rose Bowl or the Sugar Bowl, which will have their own individual COVID-19 policies.
A few weeks ago, it seemed unlikely that this would even be an issue as only a handful of players were ruled out of games due to COVID-19 all season. But as cases rise throughout the country, games are now being affected across all sports. The NBA has already seen several games canceled, the NFL had to move multiple games, and Texas A&M is unable to compete against Wake Forest in this year's Gator Bowl.
If trends continue, there's certainly a chance these policies have to come into play. And you thought things couldn't get wilder after last year...