Yesterday gave everyone around the Notre Dame football program a harsh dose of the reality of playing football during a pandemic. Shortly after news broke that Notre Dame had to cancel practice on Tuesday, we learned that this weekend’s game against Wake Forest has been postponed. When that can happen though, is still very much up in the air.
October 3 Likely Too Soon
On the surface, the most logical date for this game to be rescheduled is just next weekend since both teams have a bye week. That is probably too soon given the number of players that Notre Dame currently has in isolation and quarantine. Ten players are in isolation and another 13 in quarantine. Players need to be in quarantine for 14 days while players in isolation need at least 10 days and must pass two consecutive negative tests to return. October 3 is 11 days from yesterday.
Another full round of testing is reportedly scheduled for Notre Dame today to determine if there are any more players who need to isolate or quarantine. Is it possible that if no more players are impacted that Notre Dame could play a game next weekend? Sure, but given the extent of the outbreak, it’s too early to know if more players could be unavailable for a game next weekend.
November 21st Notre Dame Bye
Notre Dame’s next bye week isn’t until November 21, but Wake Forest is scheduled to play Duke that weekend. Duke and Wake Forest couldn’t move that game to next weekend’s Wake Forest bye either since Duke plays Virginia Tech that weekend.
What could be a possibility, however, is Notre Dame and North Carolina moving their November 27 day after Thanksgiving matchup to November 21 to create an opening for Notre Dame and Wake Forest to play the weekend of the 28th. Wake currently has a bye on 11/28 and North Carolina, like Notre Dame has an 11/21 bye weekend as well.
In that scenario, Notre Dame loses the bye weekend they had before their second-toughest game of the year, but that is just the bi-product of the situation the Irish find themselves in. Should that be the only way to get this game in, Notre Dame would have to be grateful just to still play it.
The other, possibly much larger hurdle here, is that finals are set for this week for Notre Dame. This usually isn’t a problem for Notre Dame football since finals are normally in mid-December. With the early start to the academic year, however, finals are 11/16-11/20. Notre Dame sports typically do not take place during fall semester finals.
December 12 Buffer Weekend
One other option would be the December 12 weekend that was built into the ACC schedule as a bit of a “buffer” weekend. The ACC Championship is set for either December 12 or 19 with the conference leaving the December 12 weekend somewhat open for games that got postponed without openings to reschedule.
It Might Not Be Rescheduled
There is the possibility that this game doesn’t get rescheduled at all. As we get deeper into the season, more postponements will happen. At some point, those postponements will become cancelations if they start to mount.
The ACC Championship seeding is based on winning percentage this year because the conference realized that there was a good chance that not every program would play the same number of games given the environment so not every game will be rescheduled.
Then again, there is the stark possibility that this season just doesn’t finish and the whole thing gets shut down at some point. For Notre Dame, this is just the first postponement, but there have been numerous other postponements throughout college football already. We aren’t there just yet, but we are much closer to that possible outcome with each postponement across college football.