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Pac-12 sets roster minimums, establishes game cancellation policies ahead of football restart

A tiebreaker system has also been set up for unbalanced records

pac12-football-coronavirus-cancellation-policy-2020-restart-outbreak-minimum-scholarship-players Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

Pac-12 football teams will need to have at least 53 scholarship players available in order for it to play its game each week, the conference announced Monday.

Additionally, teams must have seven available scholarship offensive linemen, four available scholarship defensive linemen and at least one scholarship quarterback in order to play.

Since the 2020 college football season began back in late August, more than 30 games have been cancelled or postponed as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks. In several cases, those games have had the opportunity to be rescheduled later in the season.

But the Pac-12 won’t have such luxury when it begins its abbreviated 2020 season on Nov. 7. The schedule includes no open dates for teams, other than Dec. 19, when those not playing in the conference championship game are expected to be paired up for a seventh game.

The Pac-12’s cancellation policy allows for a team to play with fewer than 53 scholarship players or fewer than the necessary numbers at OL, DL and QB. For the record, the Arizona Wildcats currently have 14 offensive linemen, 14 defensive linemen and four quarterbacks available to play this season.

However, there are additional circumstances that could lead to a cancellation, including:

  • Inability to isolate new positive cases within a team or athletic department or to quarantine high-risk contacts.
  • Unavailability or inability to perform testing as provided by the Pac-12 medical guidelines.
  • Campus-wide or local community transmission rates that are considered unsafe by local public health officials.
  • Inability to perform adequate contact tracing consistent with governmental requirements.
  • Local public health officials of the home team state that there is an inability for the hospital infrastructure to accommodate a surge.

New tiebreaker system installed

With the distinct possibility of cancellations this season in the Pac-12, the chances of an unbalanced schedule are very high. That could impact who represents the North and South divisions in the conference title game if not everyone plays the same number of games.

To prepare for this, the Pac-12 updated its tiebreaker policy to include stipulations for unbalanced records.

In order for a team to be eligible to win a division it must have played “no less than one fewer conference game than the average number of conference games played by all conference teams.” If the average is 5.25, for example, it would be rounded down to 5 and thus allow teams playing only 4 to be eligible for the division title.

Winning percentage would then serve as the main tiebreaker, but if a team is tied for first in the loss column it will be considered a tie and then another tiebreaker must be used. Head-to-head record will be the first way to break that tie, followed by division record and then six other tiebreakers with coin toss being at the bottom of the list.