If the Pac-12 votes to bring back football next week it may not include all 12 teams at the outset, or at all in 2020.
A report by Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News says the league is efforting to restart on Oct. 31, but not every program may be ready at that time.
Reports Friday indicated either Halloween or Nov. 7 would be the league’s start date, with the Pac-12 CEO Group set to meet again on Sept. 24 to possibly vote on a return to action. Ideally every school would start at the same time, allowing for the maximum amount of games, but that might not be possible.
Per Wilner, as few as only six teams could play that first week. That would most likely be the Arizona and Washington schools as well as Colorado and Utah, the six that haven’t been restricted from practicing because of local COVID-19 health guidelines.
The Oregon schools have been given clearance by the state to get back on the field, as do the four California schools, though Wilner is reporting that “final approval” hasn’t happened.
The only team that I have confirmed cannot be ready for 10/31 is UCLA. (Might be a few others.) USC, Oregon expected to be ready, plus WA, AZ and MTN schools.— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) September 20, 2020
But will the CEOs approve a staggered start? And state of CA must finalize new cohort size? https://t.co/Bn5Swyqtfx
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times has refuted Wilner’s claim about UCLA, noting that many Bruins who were offered a two-week break from workouts after the Pac-12 initially canceled the 2020 football season in early August continued to work out.
Whether UCLA or any other school is unable to be ready to go the first week of play is just one issue that could throw a wrench into the Pac-12’s return plans. The other could be Stanford’s reported disinterest in playing this fall.
Per R.J. Abeytia of 247Sports, the Cardinal’s issues aren’t related to health and safety but instead whether it’s right for football players to get preferential treatment when it comes to access to COVID-19 testing. The Pac-12 recently struck a deal with Quidel Corporation to provide rapid-testing equipment and antigen tests to all schools by the end of September, but those are only for student-athletes.
“The argument is that football players, as student-athletes, should not receive preferential treatment over other students – and in this case, very simply, be allowed on campus to participate in a university activity when other students are not,” Abeytia wrote. “This was a major topic during the Pac-12 CEO Group meeting Friday, according to sources. The Pac-12 sent out a statement Friday after the meeting that they’ll reconvene Thursday, Sept. 24th, ‘to make a decision regarding possible return to play,’ mostly because it needed to sort through the Stanford issue and others.
Abeytia’s report also indicates Utah and USC have a desire to being their seasons earlier than even Oct. 31 and are exploring ways to make that possible.