Oct 5, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during warmups prior to the game against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Days after Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz lit up Illinois en route to a 45-7 win on Friday, Mertz has reportedly tested positive for Covid-19.

That’s according to this report from Colton Bartholomew of the Wisconsin State Journal, who notes that Mertz is still waiting for a confirmation positive from a more conclusive nasal swab test.

As with all positive tests that occur using the daily rapid antigen tests, Mertz will be taking a PCR nasal swab test in order to confirm his status. The result of that test has not yet been returned to UW. It typically takes about a day to turn a PCR test around, depending on the lab reading the test. 

In addition to the obvious possible health concerns, both for Mertz and anyone he may have contacted (which, presumably, would include a lot of the team itself), a confirmed positive would take him out of the team setup for nearly a month.

If the PCR test confirms Mertz’s diagnosis, the No. 9 University of Wisconsin football team’s redshirt freshman quarterback will have to sit out of practice and games for at least 21 days, per the Big Ten Conference’s protocols. Mertz’s test could be a false-positive, which would have to be proven by the PCR test. If Mertz is out for at least 21 days, he’ll miss contests at Nebraska, against Purdue and at Michigan.

Obviously missing any time is bad, but Nebraska and Purdue are arguably some of Wisconsin’s bigger divisional opponents (aside from Minnesota) and the Michigan game represents one of Wisconsin’s two cross-division clashes against ranked opponents. (The other: Indiana.)
Obviously the best case scenario here is that it was indeed a false positive test, and everyone can get back to being nothing but excited that the Big Ten football season ended up happening. But it represents the first big test of the league’s in-season testing and protocols, and it’s happening with a potential breakout star quarterback at a top-ten team, so it’s certainly worth watching.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.