HOOVER, Ala. — No one on the Ole Miss football team will be forced to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But Rebels’ star quarterback Matt Corral refuses to be the one who gets a game forfeited.
At SEC Media Days, commissioner Greg Sankey was adamant in pushing SEC players and coaches toward COVID-19 vaccination, calling them ‘highly effective’ and touting them as the key to normalcy.
Sankey also noted that, unlike the unprecedented 2020 season, there will not be built-in space in the schedule for postponed games. Instead, the team unable to play will likely have to forfeit, Sankey said.
“You hope not to have disruption, but, ‘Hope is not a plan’ is the great cliché,” Sankey said. “We still have roster minimums that exist, just like last year. What I've identified for consideration among our membership is we remove those roster minimums and you're expected to play as scheduled. That means your team needs to be healthy to compete, and if not, that game won't be rescheduled.
“And thus, to dispose of the game, the ‘forfeit’ word comes up at this point. That's not a policy, and what you see are the bookends now for decision-making. We've not built in the kind of time we did last year, particularly at the end of the season, to accommodate disruption. And unless we're going to do that, our teams are going to have to be fully prepared to play their season as scheduled.”
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin declined to get into specific numbers as far as his team’s vaccination rate is concerned Tuesday afternoon during his media availability. Other coaches were more forthcoming throughout the week, however: Alabama’s Nick Saban said his team is close to 90% vaccinated while Georgia’s Kirby Smart said his team was around 85% vaccinated.
When asked about his vaccination status, Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach told a reporter, “If I was or I wasn't, I wouldn't share it with you. But again, we leave that to the doctors and anybody's doctor or care provider.”
Enter Matt Corral, Ole Miss’ superstar quarterback who led the entire nation in total offense a season ago. Corral, who told media he is fully vaccinated, did not mince words when addressing the topic — it’s about accountability.
“They’re not going to make you do it,” Corral said. “But I mean, do you want to miss a game? Like, are you willing to take a loss?”
Ole Miss had its matchup with Texas A&M canceled last season due to COVID-19.