When Vanderbilt trudged its way through a 41-7 loss to South Carolina with 56 scholarship players available Oct. 10, it marked the beginning of a tumultuous week in the Southeastern Conference.
Two days later, “Positive tests & subsequent quarantine of individuals within the Vanderbilt FB program” postponed Missouri’s homecoming game against the Commodores. It was the first SEC football game postponed, but the Tigers had already had other sports affected.
The game was moved to Dec. 12, the open slot on the back end of both teams’ schedules. With an unexpected week off, Missouri aimed to recover and regroup before the next game.
“We’ll use the week to get healthy,” Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz told reporters this week. “We’ll use the week to improve. We’ll use the week to get refocused on our academics. Then we’ll use the week to get focused on our next opponent after that, which will be Florida.”
Except it wasn’t Florida.
After the Gators paused team activities the following day because of positive COVID-19 tests within the football program, the scope of the conference changed. During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, coach Dan Mullen said that the team had moved to everyday testing and that it was on its fourth consecutive day.
Two assistant coaches, as of Wednesday, tested positive and were asymptomatic. Then on Saturday, Mullen himself announced on Twitter that he tested positive for the virus and was self-isolating.
Mullen also clarified his comments about “packing the Swamp” — a reference to Florida’s home venue, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — earlier in the week after receiving criticism around the country, saying he doesn’t question the local health officials and wants the fans that can enter the stadium to bring energy. .
The LSU-Florida game scheduled for this week was postponed, resulting in Missouri’s games against Kentucky and Florida being flipped Friday. Missouri will now have its matchup against Florida on Oct. 31.
Kentucky’s game against Georgia was also moved back one week.
Before the week’s headline matchup of No. 2 Alabama against No. 3 Georgia, Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19. But after three negative PCR tests 24 hours apart to “satisfy the requirements of the Task Force policy regarding the handling of asymptomatic PCR positive tests,” he was able to be with the team against the Bulldogs on Saturday night.
Drinkwitz said he might try to catch that game but knew this weekend would be full of recruiting after watching some Friday night high school football games.