Clemson and Ohio State have had to follow different protocols set forth by their respective conferences in terms of COVID-19 testing ahead of Friday’s College Football Playoff semifinal matchup at the Sugar Bowl.
While the Tigers are done testing for the coronavirus, having administered their final tests on Wednesday prior to leaving for the Sugar Bowl, the Buckeyes had to have their final round of pregame COVID-19 testing Thursday morning before flying to New Orleans in the afternoon.
“I think that’s a unique situation that we don’t have the same protocols going into the game,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said Thursday morning during the Sugar Bowl head coaches’ press conference.
Per ACC protocol, teams are required to test for COVID-19 three times during a game week, including testing for the virus at least 72 hours prior to competition. During a normal game week in the regular season, Clemson tested on Sunday and Wednesday and then administered testing one more time on Friday before playing in a Saturday game.
But since the Sugar Bowl is on Friday night, the Tigers had their third and final round of COVID-19 testing on Wednesday before boarding the plane for New Orleans, adhering to the aforementioned 72-hour window that is required by the ACC.
Meanwhile, because of the Big Ten’s COVID-19 protocol, Ohio State did not have its last COVID-19 tests until Thursday morning. According to Day, if a Buckeyes player were to test positive, they would then be able to take a PCR test.
In November, the Big Ten changed its policy to allow student-athletes who tested positive with the rapid antigen test, to be able to test with a PCR and get that result before the game, and if they tested negative on the PCR, they would still be able to play.
“We’re going to have an opportunity to PCR,” Day said. “We’re testing this morning and then if we do get a presump (presumptive positive test), we’ll have a chance to PCR before we get on the plane and then we go from there.”
Day was asked by a reporter if he considers it a competitive disadvantage that the Tigers concluded their COVID-19 testing on Wednesday while the Buckeyes had to test Thursday.
“I’m not going to spend time thinking about that. I’m tired of that,” he said. “It is what it is, as long as the guys are healthy, playing in the game, that’s what matters.”
The only thing Day says he is concerned about is the bottom line, which is player safety and making sure the Sugar Bowl is played in a safe environment for the players.
“At the end of the day, what’s the goal? The goal is to have a clean field,” he said, “and so we’ll follow the protocol that’s been set forth.”
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