REPORT: South Carolina joins Tennessee as SEC football bowl game opt-outs
ATHENS — South Carolina has become the second SEC team to pull out of a bowl game, joining COVID-plagued Tennessee, per reports.
Vanderbilt was the only SEC team not to finish the final week of the regular season. The Commodores had players quitting in conjunction with COVID-19 issues, leaving Georgia without a Senior Day game and derailing the outgoing class’ opportunity to become the winningest in school history.
The Gamecocks (2-8) were scheduled to play Conference USA champion UAB (6-3) in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Fla., at noon on Saturday.
The Gamecocks, like the Vols who pulled out of their Armed Forces Bowl matchup with West Virginia on Monday, have players who will be sidelined by positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing, per TheBigSpur reporter Hale McGranahan.
Only 51 or 52 players practiced on Sunday, the site reported, and member of the South Carolina staff tested positive for COVID-19 leading to much of the staff being quarantined.
A WACH-FOX television reporter is saying that Gamecocks’ players also want out of the game because they do not want to play for interim head coach Mike Bobo.
Per the report, South Carolina held a players-only meeting, after which they went to the school’s athletic director to tell them they did not want to play for the former Georgia quarterback and offensive coordinator.
Breaking: South Carolina will not play in the Gasparilla Bowl, according to team sources. I’m told COVID tracing was a concern but following a player’s only meeting today and a meeting with Ray Tanner, some players did not want to play for interim HC Mike Bobo. @wachfox
— Mike Uva (@Mike_Uva) December 22, 2020
Bobo had reportedly said there would be no team vote because wanting to play in football games was an inherent expectation in the SEC.
You may have noticed the SEC was the only conference that had no schools opt out of bowls. Which is fine.
But this Mike Bobo quote has been bothering me for two days. It’s in such sharp contrast to the Jeff Haffleys/Scott Frosts/PJ Flecks why they let their players decide. pic.twitter.com/eLOkX8l0oz
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 22, 2020
Interestingly enough, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart made reference to how unpredictable senior leadership can be when it comes to bowl games.
Smart is one of Bobo’s closest friends, and a former roommate and teammate of the South Carolina interim head coach who stays in touch.
“Anytime you’ve got seniors involved in a bowl game,” Smart said on the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl teleconference on Sunday, “it’s always a concern for you.”
Shane Beamer, 43, was formally named South Carolina’s new head football coach on Dec. 7, but he chose to finish his season as the Sooners right ends coach.