Vanderbilt Commodores-Georgia Bulldogs game postponed to Dec. 19 due to coronavirus, injury issues

On Friday morning, Greg McGarity was preparing for his final home game as Georgia's athletic director, as well as senior day for a handful of the Bulldogs' departing players.

By lunchtime, Georgia's scheduled game against Vanderbilt at Sanford Stadium on Saturday had been postponed until Dec. 19 because of COVID-19 cases, contact tracing issues, injuries and opt-outs within the Commodores' football program.

"We've been ready to play every week, and we've had two games that were postponed and one that was nearly postponed," said McGarity, who announced earlier this week that he would retire on Dec. 31. "It gets frustrating, and when you're dealing with young people, it's tough for them to understand, especially when you've done the best you can to prepare for every game.

"It's just unfortunate. It was Senior Day and parents were on the way. If we're playing the 19th, that's great, but I think there's some concern if that will be played. I know Vandy's committed to play. I just hope it develops that way."

It was the second time in four weeks that No. 8 Georgia had its game postponed because an opponent fell below the SEC's minimum roster requirement of 53 players. The Bulldogs' Nov. 14 road game at Missouri was postponed and has been re-scheduled for Dec. 12.

Mississippi State nearly didn't make a trip to Georgia on Nov. 21 because of roster issues. Georgia won 31-24 against short-handed MSU.

"You make sacrifices, and we've been virtually COVID-free all fall, with 205 people that get tested three times a week," McGarity said. "That's an amazing stat, and it might all go to hell in a handbasket tomorrow. But up until this point, it's an illustration that you can deal with this effectively.

"We've proven it, and I think Kentucky and South Carolina have proven it because they have not had to miss a game. Alabama hasn't had to miss a game. It's proven it can be done by several schools in the conference. When you're one of the schools that has had the discipline and guidance and commitment and desire to want to play the game, that tells you something about the culture you have within your football team. Unfortunately, other than the health of our young people and our staff, you get no gold stars for that. There's nothing fair in the COVID world."

Earlier this week, Vanderbilt interim coach Todd Fitch said his team had at least 53 players, with two COVID-19 tests remaining this week. He also acknowledged that some players were considering opting out after coach Derek Mason was fired Sunday.

"We had an inkling there might be a problem last night," McGarity said. "When you have kids that opt out and you have injuries, your margin of error is gone with your numbers. It all mushrooms, and you can't make the numbers work. The opt-out piece is what's really hurting everyone. All of those three things together is a bad mix. When they all come together, it's a recipe for disaster. In this case, I think that's what happened."

Also on Friday, the Buffalo-Ohio game scheduled for Saturday was canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing for the Bobcats. The cancellation left Buffalo (4-0) in limbo, waiting for the conference to determine whether the school has won the division title and a berth in the MAC championship game in Detroit on Dec. 18.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.