When the Pac-12 Conference announced its return to play in football, it didn’t leave itself much wiggle room. Teams were given six weeks to play six games, all within the league, with no byes in case of COVID-19 outbreaks.
But after having five games affected by outbreaks in the first three weeks of play, the Pac-12 has decided nonconference games can be played if needed.
The Pac-12 CEO group announced Thursday that, in its commitment to “maintaining flexibility,” nonconference games can be scheduled if three criteria are met:
- All Pac-12 testing and related protocols must be adhered to by the non-conference opponent
- It must be a home game for the Pac-12 team, with a league TV partner (ESPN or FOX) broadcasting the contest
- If a Pac-12 opponent becomes available by the end of day Thursday in any given week, the Conference game must be played in lieu of any nonconference game.
As of Thursday, the only Pac-12 game that’s been canceled for this weekend if ASU at Colorado, due to ASU’s ongoing outbreak. That means Colorado could host a nonconference game, possibly in-state rival Colorado State, whose game against UNLV was canceled due to COVID-19 issues.
However, Colorado athletic director Rick George has said the Buffaloes will not be doing such a thing this weekend.
The league’s plan puts a priority on trying to match Pac-12 teams left without opponents, as was the case last week when Cal—whose game at ASU was canceled—ended up heading to UCLA (which was supposed to host Utah) on Sunday morning.