Five days ahead of Florida’s game against Arkansas, Arkansas revealed Monday that head coach Sam Pittman has tested positive for COVID-19.
Pittman was tested on Sunday as part of the program’s normal regimen of testing following a home victory over Tennessee last Saturday, and re-tested Monday morning, with the results of that test still pending.
Per Arkansas, Pittman is currently asymptomatic and isolating at home, and all individuals considered “close contacts” “will enter quarantine guidelines.” While Pittman will participate in team activities virtually where possible, defensive coordinator Barry Odom will serve as Arkansas’s interim head coach.
If Pittman’s positive test is followed by other positive results — unlike that of Alabama’s Nick Saban, who tested positive once but then negative multiple times in close succession afterward — he will almost certainly not travel with his team to Florida, as SEC guidelines suggest he should remain in isolation for at 10 days from the positive test.
But Pittman’s positive test could mean that multiple Arkansas players are also subject to quarantine guidelines, as Pittman’s “close contacts” would include anyone who spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of him in the two days prior to Sunday — and thus, in theory, any players he spent extended time coaching during Arkansas’s game against Tennessee.
And if Pittman’s positive test is just the tip of the iceberg for Arkansas — if other football players return positive tests as the week progresses, similar to how Florida’s own COVID-19 outbreak bloomed from a handful of positive tests to more than 20 from Monday, October 12 to Tuesday, October 13 — then it could potentially throw this weekend’s game into limbo.
That could make for a very complicated stretch run toward the SEC Championship Game for the Gators, who currently lead the SEC East after their win over Georgia.
And yet, thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak at LSU that reportedly threatens the Tigers’ meeting with Alabama this Saturday, whether Florida and Arkansas play might be the undercard of this week’s fight to preserve a college football season amidst rising COVID-19 cases and positivity rates both in the South and nationally.