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Why is Alabama vs. LSU postponed? COVID-19 temporarily derails 2020 SEC schedule

The 2020 edition of Alabama against LSU might not shape up as an all-time classic, but it’s still a marquee rivalry. SEC fans will have to wait to see how it plays out this season, though.

Previously scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14, LSU’s (2-3) hosting of No. 1 Alabama (6-0) has been called off for the weekend “due to positive tests, contact tracing & subsequent quarantine of individuals” in the LSU program. It’s the second SEC football game called off this weekend, after Auburn-Mississippi State was postponed earlier Tuesday afternoon, and a third (Tennessee-Texas A&M) was called off at the same time as LSU-Alabama. 

“I’m going to let the doctors take care of all of that,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron told the media Monday. “I can’t tell you the numbers. I can tell you that we do have players that have COVID, and we do have some players that are quarantined.”

Here’s what we know right now about the issues at LSU that pushed off the Tigers’ game against the Crimson Tide.

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Why did Alabama vs. LSU get postponed?

Reports indicate that there’s been some level of COVID-19 outbreak at LSU, with contact-tracing protocols wiping out more players from weekend availability. Specific position groups most impacted for the Tigers include quarterback, tight ends and long snappers, according to reports. The Athletic has reported specifically that LSU is down to one scholarship quarterback (TJ Finley) and no scholarship tight ends or long snappers. 

The SEC’s rules indiciate minimum numbers for active players and at specific positions that help determine whether a team is fit to play. Those requirements state that a team needs to have at least 53 scholarship players available, including one quarterback, four defensive linemen, four defensive backs and seven offensive linemen with a center.

If a school doesn’t meet those requirements, there’s still room in the rules for it to opt to play, while a team can also ask for a postponement for “compelling reasons.” All postponements/cancellations are the final decision of the SEC commissioner, Greg Sankey.

All SEC schools test three times per week for COVID-19. Earlier this season, Orgeron said that “most” players on the LSU roster already had COVID-19.

When can Alabama vs. LSU be rescheduled?

LSU has no available Saturday dates during the regular season. The Tigers have already had one scheduled game (Oct. 17 against Florida) moved to Dec. 12 after the Gators underwent a COVID-19 outbreak of their own. That was the only available Saturday at the start of LSU’s season. 

The Lafayette Daily Advertiser suggests that the game could conceptually be played on Monday, Nov. 16, although the SEC’s associate commissioner told that paper that a Monday makeup had not been discussed as an option. 

Alabama does still have that Dec. 12 open date that LSU does not. Even if the SEC did choose to look for mid-week makeup opportunities, that final week likely wouldn’t be an option as structured, because somehow LSU would have to play three games in something like 10 days even with some schedule alterations. 

The SEC championship game, which at this point shapes up to feature Alabama, is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 19.

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