The Week That COVID Came for the SEC | Yahoo Sports College Podcast

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban’s positive COVID test, the two SEC games that have been postponed, and debate what would make the season a success.

Video Transcript

DAN WETZEL: Obviously, the big news is this is the week that COVID came for the SEC. The SEC waited until September 26th. Watched the Big 12 have all sorts of different issues, different things happening. This week it got real.

Obviously, you have Saban as now the poster child of this. He has the virus. He will-- well, we'll see what he's gonna do. We'll talk about that.

But the big game of the year is Georgia at Alabama. Number three Georgia at number two Alabama, Saturday night, 8:00 PM. We know this. We do not know whether there will be positives among the Alabama players. There will be additional testing of that.

Hopefully, this stuck with Nick Saban and Athletic Director Greg Byrne and didn't go further. But at this point, we're gonna talk like Alabama-Georgia is on. We got no idea.

PAT FORDE: This may get too far into the actual football weeds here, but there are implications. If you're the College Football Playoff Selection Committee and say Georgia beats Alabama and Nick Saban doesn't coach, you have to decide, well, because Saban didn't coach, does that mean Alabama should get more credit for losing than they normally would? Does it mean that Georgia gets less credit for winning? These are the impacts that are part of the equation now.

And, secondly, that you're gonna have different numbers of games most likely. Like if Florida-Missouri doesn't happen, which it probably won't the next week-- Florida is trying to win the SEC East, but you're gonna play one fewer game than most the other teams if they get all their games played. So people wanted football. We have football.

I guess my question is-- because I've gotten this on Twitter-- is it a success? Is the season successful at this point? We've had basically 13%, I think, of the games postponed or canceled. What's the threshold? I mean, maybe we don't know, we don't decide that till the end of the year. But what's considered successful as far as pulling off the season?

DAN WETZEL: If I can't watch Vandy-Missouri, it's not successful. It's just not. Go ahead, Pete.

PETE THAMEL: It's a great existential question as this goes. And I think the turning point with the administrators-- why we're having a season right now and the turning point with the presidents and the administrators was in June or July or whenever it was when the Miami Marlins were a mess and they were the laughingstock of sports and MLB was supposed to shut down. Everyone said, well, college football can't be that way. College football can't be that way.

And college football is that way. And the NFL is that way too. I mean, it's kind of funny to see the-- I guess funny is not the right word. But it's fitting to see the NFL flailing right now with the Falcons facility closed on Wednesday morning. The Patriots, the Titans, the whole crew of them that are obviously struggling with the virus.

They had been perfect for a few weeks just like the SEC had three perfect weeks. I said to Greg Sankey yesterday when he called me back, I said I'm gonna write a column on the SEC's messy week. And he quickly corrected me, and he said the SEC's first messy week, which it is in a sense. So I think 29 games canceled at this point as of Thursday morning, Pat. Is that right?

PAT FORDE: Yeah, 29. And 140 played, I believe.

PETE THAMEL: OK. And then two of those, obviously, are from the SEC. So--


PETE THAMEL: --the SEC is ahead in a lot of ways, but they're also behind because they played less and started a month later than some folks. So it's a really interesting question. But I do think for these leagues, the driver of this has always been money. And oh god, the coaches and ADs who sit around and say it's not about money, they just make me roll my eyes. You want to pass out when you hear it.

This has been an inventory play. It's been an inventory play all along. And success at the most basic bottom line for these conferences is going to be do we hit our television thresholds of games.