Alabama Football's Season Opener vs. USC Canceled
Friday afternoon the PAC-12 conference confirmed that it will be joining the Big Ten in having its football teams play league-only schedules for the 2020 season.
Alabama football was scheduled to face off against PAC-12 opponent Southern California in a marquee season opener on Sept. 5. With the announcement by the PAC-12, the game is effectively canceled.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to PAC-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said PAC-12 commissioner Larry Scott in a statement. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”
Along with football, men's and women's soccer as well as women's volleyball will also be undergoing a conference-only schedule in 2020.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne subsequently issued a statement:
"As I've said before, USC AD Mike Bohn and I had multiple conversations over the last several months, and we were both planning on playing the football game on September 5 in Arlington," Byrne's statement read. "With the PAC-12's decision to move to a conference-only schedule, we will do our best to adjust. What that looks like is to be determined."
Byrne gave no implications on what adjustments will be made or when they will be announced.
Back in May, Alabama and TCU were reportedly discussing playing as a contingency plan in case the PAC-12 cancelled non-conference games. TCU was scheduled to visit California that same day.
Alabama was slated to receive $6 million for participating in the game in Arlington, Texas.
If it is not rescheduled with a different opponent, Alabama will open the season Bryant-Denny Stadium against Georgia State, out of the Sun Belt. The following week it hosts Georgia.
Following the Ivy League's cancellations of all fall sports on Wednesday, the Big Ten announced on Thursday that is would be hosting conference-only games for the upcoming college football season.
Earlier in the day on Friday, reports indicated that the PAC-12 would follow suit. The Atlantic Coast Conference announced that it will reach its decision by late July, but has not ruled out playing a full season yet.
Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, has called all athletic directors of the conference to a special meeting in Birmingham that will take place on Monday. It is expected that the upcoming season will be the main topic of discussion, and that the conference members will decide what to do in regards to football and basketball.
However, Sankey has also stated that he expects the conference to not reach a final decision until later in the month of July, similar to the ACC.
The Big 12 has also confirmed that it will be holding off on its decision until later in the month.
In addition to the PAC-12 announced conference-only play, the conference also revealed that Scott, its commissioner, had tested positive for COVID-19.
Scott will continue to perform his duties as commissioner, albeit remotely.