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Damn you, COVID-19

Florida is the kid at school who has lice. Missouri played with the kid who has lice. Missouri now has lice.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We all knew this was going to be a possibility when the SEC decided to play football during a pandemic.

College athletes mostly live in a walled-off sports bubble in normal times anyway. But they also want to enjoy the vibrant college social life have to go to class. It doesn’t matter if you spend 23 hours and 59 minutes every day of every week in a bubble and then one minute per day outside of it: that one minute could be the moment where you’re exposed to the virus.

Compared to their SEC brethren, Missouri has been doing a tremendous job at taking the necessary steps to limit their risks, having zero positive tests over a four week period. That came to a crashing halt on Tuesday night when a second positive test in two days was received, effectively wiping out the defensive line via contact tracing protocols.

Let’s take stock of the silver linings here. First, Missouri is still one of the better programs at COVID-19 management, despite the two positive tests. It’s not an outbreak like has been reported at Texas A&M and LSU where multiples of players tested positive, thus wiping out multiple position groups. Missouri is still operating with more than 53 scholarship players available to play; they just fell below the required number of defensive linemen (4) to play a game, and because it’s mostly due to contact tracing, that will be cleared up by next week. Missouri, as of this moment, will still be playing South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt as is planned. This isn’t the end of the season. Georgia will probably not be playing in the SEC Championship game, so the Tigers could potentially be playing the Dawgs on December 19th. Essentially, other than the health and safety of the Missouri football team, everything else is fine.

And really, that’s why we’re doing this, right? Sure, the players are risking even more than the usual run-of-the-mill health and safety issues of playing football, but at least we still have football and the school makes money. And yes, it might come down to Commissioner Greg Sankey having to manually decide who wins the SEC divisions since, potentially, not all the teams will have played ten games. And, yes, the bowl/playoff selection will hold much less validity than usual as some teams might not even have five games to their resume, but could still be selected based off of just putting teams in to say we did it other nebulous qualifiers.

But at least we got football. And that is the most important thing.

So this season will continue to limp along. With COVID cases spiking, and the country breaking new records daily in reported cases of the virus, I’d expect a few more games to be cancelled between now and December 19th. For now, the Tigers will be getting ready for South Carolina until told otherwise. As always, we’ll prepare and audible along with them as Missouri and Eli Drinkwitz work through one of the toughest seasons of all time.