Louisiana & CCU Should Bypass Bowl Games, Play Sun Belt Championship At Later Date
2020 has taught us to expect the unexpected.
College football teams, like all of us, have been thrown a number of curveballs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday night, a major curveball was thrown at #17 Louisiana, #9 Coastal Carolina, and the Sun Belt Conference.
Less than 48 hours before the biggest football game in Sun Belt history, it was canceled.
Only a few hours after Louisiana's football team arrived off their team flight to Conway, South Carolina, site of the Conference Championship game, it was canceled.
A conference championship game canceled due to a single COVID-19 positive test within Coastal Carolina's program. With contact tracing protocols, an entire positional group could not play, and therefore the game was...canceled.
Canceled has been used more in sports this year than every other combined.
I'm of the opinion the Sun Belt should change "canceled" to "postponed".
Louisiana head coach Billy Napier shares the same sentiment.
Before I explain, there is one caveat.
If Tulsa upsets Cincinnati in the AAC Championship game Saturday night, Coastal Carolina would likely be going to a New Year's Six Bowl as the lone representative from a Group of 5 (G5) conference.
Under that scenario, the Sun Belt cannot postpone their Championship game for a myriad of reasons, with the most obvious being a financial one.
However, if Cincinnati wins, they will be the G5 representative in a New Year's Six Bowl.
At that point, the Sun Belt should reach out to both the Ragin' Cajuns and Chanticleers and ask each if they would be willing to bypass their Bowl games in exchange for the Conference Championship game taking place at a later date.
If Cincinnati wins, the likely Bowl destinations for Louisiana and Coastal Carolina is the Camellia Bowl on Christmas Day versus a MAC opponent, or the Cure Bowl on December 26th against an AAC opponent.
Both schools are likely to lose money on Bowl games due to the extremely limited attendance protocols.
Plus, it's not a normal Bowl year where teams go and experience a week in a city with a ton of festivities. In 2020, most of the Bowl games are more of a glorified non-conference matchup on a neutral field, with teams traveling to the location a day before kickoff.
Aside from the caveat of a potential NY6 Bowl bid for CCU, the Sun Belt Championship game at a later date is the best option.
Since every team is eligible for a Bowl game this year, the Sun Belt can send other schools to the Cure and Camellia Bowl.
That would likely lead to some blowback from each Bowl, as they prefer the best possible matchup, but what's best for the Sun Belt?
Another idea is the schools playing one another in the Cure or Camellia Bowl, as college football reporter Brett McMurphy points out.
Earlier this month, the CDC changed their contact tracing guidelines. Previously, high-risk contacts had to quarantine for two weeks.
Now, the recommendation is as short as 7 days, but only when "diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available".
If Coastal Carolina has the testing resources, the current positional group who is not allowed to play today could conceivably be ready to play by Christmas.
This would also satisfy one of the two Bowl partners involved.
However, the short timetable leaves no wiggle room.
What if the positional unit that was in close contact with the individuals who tested positive end up testing positive in the coming days?
Pushing the Sun Belt Conference Championship game back a few weeks provides more wiggle room, and the opportunity both programs worked extremely hard for.
The Mascots of the Sun Belt