The Pac-12 is back!
Just over six weeks after pulling the plug on the 2020 football season, as well as all other sports through the remainder of the calendar year, the Pac-12 has reversed course on its football decision. In a unanimous vote of the Pac-12 CEO Group conducted Thursday, the conference will play a 7-game season between Nov. 6 and Dec. 18.
The details of the schedule will be announced later, but seven games likely means each team will play its five divisional opponents plus two crossover opponents. (It’s also worth mentioning that the NCAA has already waived win requirements for bowl eligibility.)
The Pac-12 initially canceled all sports on Aug. 11, citing uncertainties with keeping student-athletes safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, doing so just a few days after the Big Ten became the first power conference to postpone fall competition.
But the Big Ten voted last week to bring back football, starting Oct. 23, putting pressure on the Pac-12 to do the same. Aiding that movement was the league’s agreement with Quidel Corporation to provide rapid COVID-19 tests and testing equipment, which is expected to be on all 12 campuses by the end of September.
“I think (ASU president) Michael (Crow) and my colleagues at the Pac-12 were very concerned about having the adequate testing and learning more about these data,” UA president Robert C. Robbins said Thursday. “So I think after looking at that and watching the protocols that are being put in place by the NBA, NFL and the other conferences, I’m comforted by the fact that we can safely take care of our student-athletes.”
Testing wasn’t the Pac-12’s only hurdle to overcome in order to return to the field, however. Local health restrictions in California and Oregon had prevented half of the league’s teams from being able to practice, but in the past week agreements were made with the respective state officials to allow for Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA and USC to get back in pads.
Arizona, on the other hand, has been able to go through regular workouts throughout the hiatus, which presumably could give the Wildcats an edge against whoever their first opponent is.
“Everyone in the Arizona Football Family is thrilled that our student-athletes will have an opportunity to compete this fall,” coach Kevin Sumlin said in a statement. “As with every decision made by the University and the Pac-12, the decision of the CEO Group to move forward is centered on the health and safety of our students, coaches and staff and we are grateful for the broad commitment to testing resources from our CEOs. I am proud of the patience, resilience and commitment that our team has shown during an unprecedented time. We will continue to work hard preparing for the moment when we once again take the field, while staying committed to keeping each other and those around us safe and healthy.”
While football is returning, the rest of the Pac-12’s fall sports won’t be played until early 2021. The NCAA recently approved regular season and championship calendars for cross country, soccer, volleyball and water polo, all of which will run between February and May of next year.