Cal awaits "final determination" and Arizona State cancels football practice. Is Sunday a possibility?

Keeping you up to date with a lot of unknowns in college football

After missing last Saturday’s game against Washington due to a positive coronavirus test among the team—reportedly the defensive line, which is mandated by the Pac-12 to have at least four players for a game—California’s quest for answers has been met with more question marks and uncertainty.

There are no reports that any other players or staff associated with the team have tested positive. However, a negative test does not mean the subject has no coronavirus—it is merely the absence of a positive test result. These are not omniscient, infallible tests that can detect one single viral particle in the subject’s body. If the viral titer is below the test’s limit of detection, the test can return a negative result; after time (up to 14 days, per CDC guidelines), the virus can replicate within the subject’s system and reach sufficient levels to infect and spread to others. Thus, the City of Berkeley is seemingly enforcing a 14-day quarantine, which has potentially been combined with the entire defensive line having been in close contact with the player who tested positive—resulting in a fatal combination for Cal Football.

Although it’s unclear if Cal could do a temporary widespread shuffle of their roster and move other players to the defensive line in order to keep their at-risk players in quarantine and still play on Saturday, the coaches have not yet pulled the trigger on this and prefer to wait for the quarantined players to return. Per defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon, the Bears are “battling to keep a two-deep” due to the self-isolation and quarantines; consequently, they have moved Erick Nisich back to defensive line. Nisich started last season as a defensive lineman, but moved to the offensive line during the season and was forced into a starting role against Utah due to injury; he’s certainly a trooper for his willingness to move around as needed for the team.

Bears were anxiously awaiting for Wednesday night, when we were expecting clarity for the game; instead, we were met with a plainly stated PR message cancelling the scheduled media interviews and stating there would be no update regarding the game.

Per Kyle Bonagura of ESPN, Arizona State has cancelled Thursday’s practice, with “multiple sources” linking the cancellation to the coronavirus. It’s unclear if this is related to a quarantining or part of game prep, but he also noted that sources were “hopeful” that the game could be played, possibly even on Sunday.

News of the positive Cal test broke on November 4, which would put Saturday and Sunday at 10 and 11 days later, respectively. The CDC updated their guidelines for a 10-day quarantine for individuals who test positive, but still recommending 14-day quarantine for those who come in contact with an infected person; maybe these sources are optimistic that the combined negative tests with a 10-day isolation are sufficient to prove the players are virus-free and can safely play.