Illinois and Northern Illinois have emerged because the favorites to exchange Texas A&M to play Wake Forest within the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Dec. 31 at TIAA Financial institution Area, after the Aggies needed to choose out of the sport on Wednesday once they have been left with lower than 40 wholesome gamers on account of an outbreak of optimistic COVID-19 exams, accidents and gamers leaving early to arrange for the NFL draft.
The nation’s sixth-oldest bowl sport was jeopardized after Texas A&M made the shock announcement, 5 days after soccer operations and bowl practices have been suspended.
“Because of a mix of COVID-19 points inside the program, in addition to season-ending accidents, the Texas A&M soccer roster shouldn’t be able to soundly take part within the upcoming Dec. 31 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in opposition to Wake Forest,” the college mentioned in an announcement.
“It’s unlucky, however we simply do not have sufficient scholarship gamers out there to subject a crew,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher instructed ESPN.
Gator Bowl president Greg McGarity mentioned the sport is not being written off but however the clock is ticking. An alternate alternative crew is being thought of, in session with ESPN, the sport’s broadcast associate and the NCAA Soccer Oversight Committee — nevertheless it must be chosen by Friday.
“We’re optimistic thinkers,” McGarity mentioned. “We’re letting the method play out.”
McGarity mentioned the crew would not must be from the SEC — the sport is contracted to match an SEC crew vs. an ACC crew — and likewise would not must have a successful document.
The NCAA has allowed groups with a document under .500 to play in bowl video games up to now, with a precedence on the crew’s Tutorial Progress Fee. The highest three 5-7 groups on the APR record are Rutgers, Syracuse and Illinois.
Kentucky, for instance, was invited to play within the Gator Bowl final season with a 4-6 document and beat an 8-3 N.C. State crew, 23-21.
That brings Jaguars proprietor Shad Khan’s alma mater into the combo. Illinois completed 5-7 however received three of its final 5 video games. The 2 losses got here by six to Rutgers and 10 to No. 17 Iowa, and the Illini beat No. 20 Minnesota.
In line with printed stories, Rutgers has already turned down the prospect to play in Jacksonville.
“Ready by the telephone…. #ILL #famILLy,” Illinois coach Bret Bielema posted on Twitter.
McGarity mentioned he has not had a dialog with Khan nevertheless it’s gotten again to him that Khan is lobbying for Illinois.
To save lots of the sport, McGarity mentioned he is welcoming all the assistance he can get.
“That might be phenomenal if that might occur,” McGarity mentioned of the prospect of getting Illinois. “I’ve gotten phrase that he’s very enthusiastic about his Illinois ties and the way glad he could be to see Illinois right here.”
A bowl trade supply has additionally instructed the Instances-Union that MAAC champion Northern Illinois (9-5) is a risk if the NCAA makes use of the choice of permitting a crew that has already performed in a bowl sport to play in one other. The Huskies misplaced to Coastal Carolina 47-41 on Dec. 17 within the Remedy Bowl in Orlando.
Wake Forest officers remained optimistic they may nonetheless get the reward for his or her 10-3 season and athletic director John Currie mentioned throughout a video convention on Wednesday that groups had rapidly reached out to him as doable replacements — which he referred to McGarity and his employees.
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“It might be inappropriate to touch upon choices, however to be very clear, I used to be heartened,” Currie mentioned. “I did not know what sort of curiosity could be on the market. A soccer crew is difficult, with loads of components and folks, to mobilize and no less than 4 have reached out already. Greg [McGarity] and his employees proceed to work diligently to search out alternatives for Wake to play.”
Coach Dave Clawson mentioned he has met together with his six captains who mentioned all of them needed to play within the sport, with one caveat.
“They do not wish to be right here Christmas Day, lifting and practising, if there’s uncertainty,” Clawson mentioned of his deliberate bowl apply schedule. “In equity, if we will hold them over Christmas, we have to know one thing pretty early on Friday. They wish to play within the Gator Bowl. They labored very exhausting to get in a bowl of this caliber, this status and we will give that each alternative.”
Follow time a problem
McGarity mentioned one subject was apply time: groups with dropping information final performed on Thanksgiving weekend, which could make it extra possible for a crew corresponding to Northern Illinois or Marshall, which performed final week.
One other risk could be the Florida Gators, who play UCF on Thursday within the Gasparilla Bowl in St. Petersburg, which is eight days earlier than the Gator Bowl. Nonetheless, UF’s solely skilled quarterback out there, Emory Jones, has already entered the switch portal and the crew did not make the most of all of its out there bowl apply dates because it transitions to the brand new teaching employees beneath Billy Napier.
Different groups which have already performed bowl video games that will have brief journey distances to Jacksonville are Liberty, Western Kentucky, Alabama-Birmingham, Louisiana, and Outdated Dominion.
Friday deadline set
McGarity mentioned a deadline of midday Friday has been established to discover a crew to play Wake Forest, which has not had any COVID-19 points amongst its crew.
“We’re making an attempt to shake the timber to see if there are any replacements,” he mentioned. “We’ll know by midday Friday that we’ll both play or cancel the sport. We’ll run each rabbit down every gap and do all the things in our energy to search out somebody.”
McGarity mentioned if there isn’t any sport, the Gator Bowl can have no ticket or TV income and due to this fact is not going to must make the $5.35 million payout to the 2 groups. There is a matter of working bills till subsequent yr’s sport however the Jacksonville Metropolis Council voted to present $500,000 to the Gator Bowl Affiliation final week to assist if there are any monetary shortfalls.
Texas A&M had suspended apply final weekend as soon as the outbreak started affecting gamers. There isn’t any minimal requirement this season within the SEC to subject a crew however the NCAA requires no less than 85 gamers on the lively roster.
“When you hear that crew is having points, definitely it causes you to be involved,” McGarity mentioned.
There have already been 12 bowls performed with none points and just one different bowl participant, Miami within the Solar Bowl, has reported COVID points.
Final yr, 17 bowls have been canceled of the 43 on the schedule.
Aggies lose battle of attrition
It has been one hit after one other for the Aggies since ending their common season at 8-4 with losses of their final two convention video games.
It started with gamers opting out of the bowl sport to keep away from the danger of damage earlier than the NFL draft, defensive sort out DeMarvin Leal, tight finish Jalen Wydermeyer and operating again Isaiah Spiller. Quarterback Zach Calzada, who began 10 video games this season, entered the switch portal and whereas he may have performed within the bowl sport, determined in opposition to it.
Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork instructed ESPN that Texas A&M was all the way down to 38 scholarship place gamers, of which 20 have been offensive and defensive linemen.
“So should you take operating backs, receivers, quarterbacks and defensive backs, we had 13 of these guys and solely 13 scholarship gamers on protection,” Bjork instructed ESPN. “We had over 40 guys out between COVID, season-ending accidents, transfers and opt-outs.
“We simply did not have sufficient. You may’t put the opposite gamers which are wholesome in danger.”
Wake Forest has not reported any points. Currie mentioned that 72 gamers acquired the booster shot late final week once they returned to the campus, forward of a college mandate that each one college students will need to have acquired their boosters earlier than enrolling in January.
Wake performed in first Gator Bowl
The Gator has been performed with out interruption since 1946, when Wake Forest beat South Carolina 26-14. The Deacons had not performed within the sport since then.
The one bowl video games older than the Gator are the Rose (1916), Orange (1935), Sugar (1935), Solar (1935) and Cotton (1937).
When bowls on the Gator’s tier final season such because the Music Metropolis and Vacation have been canceled, the Gator was capable of be performed, with Kentucky vs. N.C. State on Jan. 2. In some circumstances the bowls made the choice to cancel and in others, one of many groups opted out.
The one different time Wake Forest performed in Jacksonville was the 2006 ACC championship sport, when the Deacons defeated Georgia Tech 9-6.
CFP publicizes revised coverage
Within the meantime, the Faculty Soccer Playoff introduced its COVID-19 contingencies on Wednesday for the four-team playoff, the nationwide championship sport and two different New Yr’s Day Six video games.
If one crew is unable to play in one of many semifinal video games (on the Cotton and Orange Bowls), the sport can be forfeited and the opposite crew will advance to the nationwide championship sport. Alabama is taking part in Cincinnati within the Cotton Bowl and Georgia faces Michigan within the Orange Bowl, each on Dec. 31.
Nonetheless, Alabama acquired a jolt on Wednesday when it introduced offensive line coach and former Jaguars coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Invoice O’Brien examined optimistic for the virus. In an announcement, the college mentioned it expects each to have the ability to coach within the sport subsequent week.
Michigan additionally introduced that its total crew will obtain COVID-19 booster pictures this week
If each groups in a kind of video games can’t play, it might be declared no contest and the winner of the opposite semifinal would be the nationwide champion.
If three of the 4 groups can’t play, the semifinal sport with two groups unable to play can be declared no contest and the remaining crew within the different sport can be declared the CFP nationwide champion.
If groups can not take part within the Fiesta (Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State) or the Peach (Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh), makes an attempt can be made for alternate dates inside per week of the unique day. If no date may be discovered, the sport can be no contest.
The Rose Bowl (Ohio State vs. Utah) and the Sugar Bowl (Ole Miss vs. Baylor) don’t fall beneath the CFP pointers this season.
The nationwide championship sport can be performed no later than Jan. 14, if the semifinals are carried out, and one or each of the groups are unable to play on the scheduled date of Jan. 10.
This text initially appeared on Florida Instances-Union: Gator Bowl: Illinois, Northern Illinois may change Texas A&M