The 13th-ranked and 9-0 BYU Cougars could end up having a matchup this weekend with the 18th-ranked and also undefeated Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, but it’s not a done deal just yet.
Just after 3 p.m. MST on Wednesday, a bevy of people within the Cougar football program — players and coaches, including offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes — sent tweets with a bunch of eye emojis, raising suspicion that BYU had filled its blank Saturday, perhaps with a marquee opponent.
At 3:31, KUTV’s Jake Edmonds tweeted, “I can confirm the rumors. #BYU at Coastal Carolina is happening.” At 3:48, 1280 The Zone radio host and former Cougar Hans Olsen tweeted, “Can confirm!”
I can confirm the rumors. #BYU at Coastal Carolina is happening.— Jake Edmonds (@JakeKUTV) December 2, 2020
Coastal Carolina, however, is scheduled to face the Liberty Flames this weekend in a game that ESPN’s College GameDay will be at. The Chanticleers are then scheduled to face Sun Belt Conference foe Troy on Dec. 12 before the Sun Belt title game on Dec. 19.
At the same time the BYU-Coastal Carolina reports were surfacing, however, multiple outlets reported that some Liberty players have recently tested positive for COVID-19, including starting quarterback Malik Willis.
Just after 4 p.m., numerous national college football reporters tweeted that BYU and Coastal Carolina officials have discussed the possibility of playing this weekend if the Flames are unable to, but as of now, the Liberty-Coastal Carolina game is still on.
At 4:08, a tweet was posted on the official Coastal Carolina Football Twitter account that read, “Contrary to what is being ‘reported’ our game on Saturday, Dec. 5, versus @LibertyFootball will kickoff at 2 p.m. ET at Brooks Stadium.”
Minutes later, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman reported that Liberty will make a decision on Thursday morning whether it will be able to play or not. Feldman said there was an “uptick” of COVID-19 cases within the Flames program on Sunday, and all defensive coaches and all but one defensive player have been unavailable the entire week.
Feldman also reported that if Liberty can’t play, BYU would be looking to simply slot into the Flames’ accommodations in South Carolina.
There is a tentative discussion that IF Liberty can't play, BYU would try and jump and take the Flames place in everything that LU was set up for (hotels, meals etc). Liberty really wants to play this game if possible given they've played 10 gms, it's a Top 25 matchup + GameDay. https://t.co/o4FgucGK1E— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 2, 2020
About 30 minutes later, a formal statement was released by Coastal Carolina which read, “Our focus and intention remain on preparing and playing Liberty University on Saturday and showcasing our University and campus to the college football world via ESPN College GameDay. There are no changes or adjustments to that schedule and both schools are still completing weekly COVID-19 testing protocols that would impact any game decision.”
Late Wednesday night, Feldman and ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg both tweeted that momentum was building for BYU and Coastal Carolina to play one another because of the COVID-19 problems at Liberty.
Ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25, the Cougars have come in well below that in the first two College Football Playoff rankings and could use a matchup against a good team to bolster their dimming hopes of getting a berth to a New Year’s Six bowl, as their schedule to this point has been weak.