The 2021 collegiate football season may well turn out to be an asterisk year.
On Monday, the Southeastern Conference office announced that league teams that cannot play games due to COVID outbreaks, widespread injuries, or a combination of both will be forced to forfeit and take a loss in the standings.
That ruling has the potential to shake up the rankings and championship matchups, as COVID-fueled forfeiture and corresponding mark in the loss column will complicate assessment of teams’ talent and abilities.
That’s a change from the pandemic-stricken 2020 season, in which teams with fewer than 53 available scholarship players — and no quarterbacks, fewer than seven offensive linemen and fewer than four defensive linemen — could ask that games be re-scheduled or declared “no contest.” This season, the SEC commissioner will be empowered to declare a matchup “no contest” in “extraordinary circumstances.”
The good news is that play will go forth with varying local safety requirements at individual venues.
Fans can always catch their favorite teams as televised – assuming they’re healthy enough to play.