College Football Playoff coronavirus protocols vary for Ohio State, other three teams

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State players warm up for the Big Ten championship game.

Ohio State will continue to follow the Big Ten’s coronavirus protocols in the College Football Playoff.

A playoff spokesman confirmed to The Dispatch in an email this week that the teams selected for the four-team field are using the procedures previously established by their conferences during the regular season.

That includes testing for COVID-19 and return-to-play steps for players who test positive or are deemed close contacts due to contact tracing.

The decision was reached this fall by the playoff’s management committee, which includes university presidents and chancellors from the 10 conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision and Notre Dame. Eric Barron, the president of Penn State, is the Big Ten’s representative.

As a result, there are no standardized protocols for the postseason, which includes two semifinal games on New Year’s Day, followed by the national championship game Jan. 11.

The Buckeyes continue to undergo daily testing, using rapid antigen tests obtained by the Big Ten in September through a corporate partnership with Quidel and Biodesix.

At various points during the season, Ohio State has also used supplemental polymerase chain reaction tests, which are considered to be more sensitive.

Teams from the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences – including Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame – have been required to be tested three times per week. The Fighting Irish are a temporary member of the ACC this season.

But the biggest variance in the leagues’ protocols involves the quarantine period for players who test positive for the virus.

Like those at all 14 Big Ten schools, positive Ohio State players have been required to miss 21 days, the longest period for any conference. The timeline was set up in order for players to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing, including a cardiac MRI.

In line with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ACC has mandated players to be out for 10 days.

ESPN reported Monday that the quarantine period for Big Ten players in all varsity sports will be reduced to 17 days, affecting the Buckeyes for their semifinal matchup with Clemson.

Twenty-two players were unavailable for last Saturday’s Big Ten championship game against Northwestern. Some were injured, and the school does not specify the reasons for the absences, but some had tested positive. Punter Drue Chrisman confirmed he was positive.

The conference has not publicly announced a change to the return-to-play policy, something Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said this week that they were waiting on.

“We have some guys that are really close that we’ll find out once we get the final word,” Day said.

He mentioned linebacker Baron Browning and wide receiver Chris Olave, who were out against Northwestern, as two players who were close to being able to return.  

In addition to following the Big Ten’s protocols, the Buckeyes have also sought additional measures to limit their exposure to COVID-19.

Players remained on campus this week for practices and did not travel to home to see family for Christmas.

Most of the preparation for the playoff will also be in Columbus. The team isn’t scheduled to travel to New Orleans until Dec. 31, the day before the semifinal.


No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Clemson

When: 8:45 p.m. Jan. 1


Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)