More than 20 members of the University of Florida football team had tested positive for COVID-19 by Oct. 14, signaling an outbreak that has sidelined the Gators and postponed its matchup this weekend against LSU. But Florida represents only one of four SEC teams that COVID-19 touched this week: Vanderbilt, Alabama, and Ole Miss have also been roiled by the virus.
“We’re just trying to manage it the best we can,” Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin told reporters on Oct. 14 of a team outbreak.
Kiffin’s quote provides a fitting description for perhaps every single FBS football conference currently playing, as all six have experienced outbreaks, cancellations and postponements since the season began. Every conference has developed their own strategies for testing, contact tracing, and other safety measures because the NCAA did not provide strict protocols for all schools to follow. But no strategy has kept COVID-19 completely at bay.
As of Oct. 15, 31 games have been postponed for COVID-19 related reasons, according to a CBS Sports tally. But that number doesn’t represent how many teams have suffered outbreaks, as not all college football teams are releasing their test results, and that no protocol requires that one positive test shuts down team activities. Many, like the University of Missouri, have played games despite one or more athletes or staff members testing positive.
The other four FBS conferences yet to play — the Mountain West, MAC, Big Ten and Pac-12 — have established protocols with testing ranging from three times a week to daily. But it isn’t clear whether they’ll yield better results than those of conferences already playing. The FBS football season, despite all this, shows no sign of slowing.