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ASU Football: Big Ten Optimism Paves the Way for the Pac-12

The Big Ten could have football which could mean good news for the Pac-12.
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It wasn’t that long ago when the Big Ten and PAC-12 both pulled the plug on the 2020 college football season for their conferences on Aug. 11. Now, just over a month later, there is growing optimism that the Big Ten will reverse that decision and play football this fall after all, with an anticipated start date to linger around mid-October. With this development over the weekend, the conference of champions will now have to decide if it will reconsider its cancellation of football and all fall sports as well. So let’s dive into the specifics and what the PAC-12 will have to do in order to return before 2021.

The Big Ten’s Return to Competition Task Force held a presentation on Saturday outlining how the conference can safely go about having football this semester. The meeting went as planned, leading to all of the information being presented to the 14 presidents/chancellors on Sunday. The committee emphasized that there is now reliable and rapid testing available to the schools, noting recent changes in medical protocols as well.

The tentative start to the season that was presented to the Big Ten was October 17, with that date being flexible if needed. The conference would have to have at least nine presidents vote in favor of the return, according to reports. The vote is expected to be held sooner rather than later, with it expected to happen before the end of this week, possibly in less than 72 hours.

While the PAC-12 has been hand-in-hand on making decisions parallel to the Big Ten, this time around is a little different. With Oregon and California still prohibiting contact-practice for the six schools in the conference, it wouldn’t be practical to come up with a comprehensive plan to return just yet. “Until we get the blessing of health officials, I’m not even going to bring it back to review. Hoping that happens by the end of the month, and then we can revisit and set a new timetable,” PAC-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told KJR radio on Friday.

The conference is awaiting a late-September arrival of rapid testing kits that they can use to test athletes before games, practices and travel to help avoid major outbreaks and contact tracing. The conference’s partnership with Quidel allows for a larger number of COVID-19 test results to come back within 15 minutes.

The PAC-12’s most recent plan is targeting a mid-to-late November restart, according to ESPN’s Heather Dinich. The conference is looking at giving the schools at least six weeks to conduct full-contact practices and physically prepare for the season before it would begin. This, paired with optimism from Scott following the partnership with Quidel, should give PAC-12 fans hope that a season will be played prior to 2021. And if all goes as planned, we may be seeing some of our favorite college athletes on the field this fall.