| Columbia Daily Tribune
Missouri’s homecoming football game against Vanderbilt this weekend has been postponed because of coronavirus-related issues with the Commodores.
The Tigers (1-2) were scheduled to face Vanderbilt (0-3) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Faurot Field, but the contest will not be played as scheduled, the Southeastern Conference announced Monday afternoon.
The game will now be played Dec. 12 in Columbia, the league’s universal open date between the end of the retooled regular season and the conference championship.
The postponement is “due to positive tests and subsequent quarantine of individuals” within the Vanderbilt program, the league announced.
The SEC has established a minimum threshold of 53 active scholarship student-athletes for a team to play a game. The Commodores had just 56 available scholarship players for last Saturday’s loss to South Carolina.
“It’s been a wild, about three hours. If y’all want to know the real truth, our bus company alerted us that Vanderbilt had canceled their buses, and that’s where we first got wind that maybe this game wasn’t going to go on,” Missouri head football coach Eli Drinkwitz said Monday afternoon on The Paul Finebaum Show on SEC Network. “And then, as more and more things transpired, we got word from the SEC office that Vanderbilt had fallen below the COVID threshold. And we absolutely understand.
“We’ve been dealing with COVID just like everybody else, and so our No. 1 priority is for everybody at Vanderbilt to be safe, the players to be safe, and these football contests can be made up. We’re going to use it as a positive for us here at Mizzou. We’ll use the week to get healthy, we’ll use the week to improve, we’ll use the week to get refocused on our academics, and then we’ll use the week to get focused on our next opponent after that, which will be Florida.”
Vanderbilt’s current roster shortage is due to COVID-19 protocols as well as injuries and opt-outs, the school said.
“While we share in the disappointment that this Saturday’s game will be postponed, our program is deeply appreciative of the tireless efforts put forth by student-athletes, university officials, conference administrators and medical experts who have risen to the challenge of helping us navigate these unprecedented circumstances,” Vanderbilt head football coach Derek Mason wrote in a statement.
“The safety and well-being of our student-athletes will remain a top priority as we continue the season, and we look forward to returning to competition.”
Vanderbilt’s bye week is Oct. 24, while Missouri’s falls two weeks later on Nov. 7, making Dec. 12 the only open date in common between the teams.
This is the first SEC football game moved to the universal open date.
The postponement leaves Missouri and its alumni without a football game during Homecoming weekend.
“We haven’t made any decisions on that yet,” University of Missouri spokesman Christian Basi said about the potential continuation of Homecoming activities. “We are looking at all of the options at this moment.”
Missouri’s 2020 Homecoming was already going to look drastically different due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Tigers had only 10,013 fans in attendance against LSU.
Additionally, several Homecoming activities, including a spirit rally and 2020 Mizzou Hall of Fame ceremony, were moved online to account for social distancing.
The Tigers’ next scheduled game is Oct. 24, when they’ll go on the road to face Florida in primetime. Their next home game is slated for 11 a.m. on Oct. 31 against Kentucky.
Missouri is coming off a 45-41 win over defending national champion LSU, a game that switched venues from Baton Rouge to Columbia three days before kickoff because of Hurricane Delta.
The Tigers were without six players — including three starters — against LSU off of one positive COVID-19 test leading into the matchup. The postponement against Vanderbilt is unrelated to Missouri’s coronavirus testing.
“It’s not about what you don’t have. It’s about what you do have and how you can function as a unit together,” Drinkwitz said of fluid absences due to COVID-19. “And that’s really what we’re focused on, as a coaching staff and as players. How do we play our best ball with the people on the football field? And don’t worry about who’s not here or what they can’t do, worry about what you can do.
“And that was really our mindset going into the game (against LSU), and I thought we did a nice job of just focusing on what we can control throughout the game.”
Dec. 12 is also the scheduled date for the Missouri men’s basketball game against Kansas at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the first Border War matchup between the programs since the Tigers’ move to the SEC in 2012.
This is the 28th FBS game overall to be postponed or canceled since Aug. 26. The SEC started a conference-only schedule Sept. 26, a few weeks later than the rest of the FBS conferences that began play in September, to account for possible spikes in coronavirus cases on league campuses.
Missouri athletics says it will email football ticket holders when additional information is available about the rescheduled game against Vanderbilt.
The Tribune’s Langston Newsome contributed to this story.
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