ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The University of Cincinnati Bearcats have arrived in North Texas for their Cotton Bowl playoff semifinal game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The team touched down Sunday morning.
The Alabama Crimson Tide also arrived Sunday for the game, but are without a few key coaches due to COVID-19.
The Crimson Tide were without offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien or offensive line coach Doug Marrone. Coach Nick Saban expects both coaches to join the team before Friday's game. O'Brien and Marrone tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday and were isolating with mild symptoms.
Saban says the coaches are doing well and will participate in meetings and practice via Zoom until they arrive closer to the game. Saban says there are no known COVID-19 issues among players.
UC has not announced any positive cases of COVID-19 as of yet.
Cincinnati ➡️ Dallas. Welcome to Texas, @GoBearcatsFB!#LikeNoOther | #Bearcats pic.twitter.com/43j28h97F8— Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (@CottonBowlGame) December 27, 2021
WE HAVE ARRIVED‼️— Cincinnati Football (@GoBearcatsFB) December 26, 2021
📍 Dallas, Texas#Bearcats | @CottonBowlGame pic.twitter.com/aCl6q9ElS9
If UC or Alabama is unavailable to play, the unavailable team would forfeit and its opponent would advance to the national championship game, the College Football Playoff committee said last week.
"As we prepare for the playoff, it's wise and necessary to put into place additional precautions to protect those who will play and coach the games," CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. "These policies will better protect our students and staffs while providing clarity in the event worst-case scenarios result."
If both teams are unavailable to play in either the Cotton or Orange Bowl (Michigan versus Georgia), then the semifinal would be declared a "no contest" and the team winning the other semifinal game would be declared the CFP National Champion.
If the team's unavailability is determined after the semifinals, the national championship game in Indianapolis could be rescheduled to no later than Friday, Jan. 14.
If one team is able to play and the other is not and the game cannot be rescheduled or is rescheduled and cannot be played, then the team unable to play shall forfeit the game and the other team shall be declared CFP National Champion.
If both teams are unable to play on either an original or rescheduled date, then the game shall be declared "no contest" and the CFP National Championship shall be vacated for this season.
Other actions announced include:
- Attendance at events at the game sites will be optional for student-athletes, institutions' staff members, bands and spirit squads.
- Media access to coaches, staff and student-athletes will be virtual.
- Each institution will use the testing arrangement that it used during the regular season. The institution will arrange for testing at the game site. Each conference has agreed to accept each other conference's testing protocol.
- The director of athletics and the institution's chief medical officer must certify that each person with access to the playing field on game day has tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the kickoff or has been fully vaccinated.
"The University of Cincinnati Athletic Department continues to follow the recommendations and guidance set by our medical staff as well as the policies set forth by the CDC, local health department and the University of Cincinnati campus for COVID-19 prevention," University of Cincinnati football sports information director Zach Stipe wrote in an email. "We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and will adjust our protocols as needed."
"More than 99% of UC football players and staff are vaccinated and every single player and staff member available for the game is vaccinated," Stipe said.
Whether you're at the @CottonBowlGame or cheering on @GoBearcatsFB around the world...— Cincinnati Bearcats (@GoBEARCATS) December 27, 2021
⚫️ WEAR BLACK ⚫️#Bearcats | #CFBPlayoff pic.twitter.com/VhsG3kdlGw
The College Football Playoff matches the No. 1-ranked team vs. No. 4, and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in semifinal games for a shot at the National Championship.
The College Football Playoff National Championship is scheduled for Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.