The Arizona Wildcats were almost on a plane to Salt Lake City on Friday when they found out their opener at Utah had been cancelled after several Utes tested positive for COVID-19.
The Washington Huskies also had their opener at Cal canceled because the Golden Bears had COVID issues.
That immediately led fans and reporters to try to connect the dots: Why don’t Arizona and Washington play each other instead? After all, the two teams are supposed to square off at UW on Nov. 21. Why not bump that game up a couple weeks if they’re both going to be idle this weekend?
Two reports said the schools broached the idea, but Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin denied that Monday in his weekly press conference, citing the logistical issues of scheduling a game in such a short time frame.
“I don’t know how you can just flip around and play another college football team in 24 hours,” he said. “I mean, that doesn’t make any sense to me. You haven’t watched any of their video, you’re watching the game and then you get notified that you’re not going to play. We’re not going to just turn around and go play Washington in 24 hours. That was never a consideration.”
If it was, the Wildcats would have been healthy enough to play. Sumlin said his team doesn’t have a significant number of COVID-19 cases right now. (A source said Arizona has had roughly 15 since returning to campus in July.)
“Over the course of time we have, but now with our testing protocol and our testing that’s been up four or five times a week, we don’t have those issues right now,” he said.
Sumlin was admittedly frustrated that the Utah game was canceled, and is looking forward to hosting USC this weekend, but knows not to take anything for granted.
COVID cases are rising across the country and three SEC games have already been canceled this weekend.
So even though Sumlin’s team is healthy right now, he warned “that can change tomorrow.”
“I mean, that’s just the world we live in right now, just being honest with you,” he explained. “But I think, as I’ve said before, we’ve been transparent this whole time and our medical team has too. What they’ve put together in place has given us the opportunity to compete and it’s also made our players and their parents feel and know that they’re in a safe environment.
“And that’s more than just me. There’s a lot of people involved in that protocol. There’s a lot of people that are involved in contact tracing if we have had people (test positive), just like myself. I think the confidence level with our medical team, with our administration, how we’ve done things is at a high level and if we do have those issues, we have addressed them immediately and right now things are going pretty well. But as you’ve seen around the country, that can change. And if it does, it does. But we feel good about where we are.”