BYU Football: PAC-12 Reverses Conference-Only Decision with Strings Attached
The PAC-12 reversed their initial decision to play only conference games on Thursday and will now allow non-conference games. When news broke that the PAC-12 would reverse their decision earlier this week, many college football fans (As John Wilner can attest) turned their attention to BYU's schedule. As of the time of this article, BYU has two weekends available following their game against North Alabama on Saturday. In theory, BYU is the most likely team to take on a PAC-12 opponent in a non-conference game given their availability. In practice, however, it's not as easy as finding common dates on schedules. the PAC-12's decision is contingent on COVID-19 protocols that BYU is not currently meeting.
ESPN's Kyle Bonagura released three rules for PAC-12 non-conference games this season:
- Opponent must meet PAC-12 testing/COVID protocols
- Only PAC-12 home games with a Pac-12 TV partner
- If a PAC-12 opponent becomes available by the end of day Thursday, must pay the available conference opponent.
The PAC-12 does a daily antigen test and weekly (minimum) PCR test. According to multiple reports (and confirmed by Bongura) BYU tests three times per week. In other words, BYU does not currently qualify as a non-conference opponent for the PAC-12. The Cougars could update their testing protocols and meet the PAC-12 requirements, but it is still unclear how far in advance those protocols would need to be updated.
Even if BYU updates their testing protocols and schedules a last-minute game with a PAC-12 team, that game would be cancelled if another PAC-12 team becomes available by the end of day on Thursday.
Update: Bonagura followed up with a PAC-12 spokesperson and confirmed that the conference would permit a game against BYU if they "were to elevate its testing/COVID protocols."
Heather Dinich of ESPN reached out to a BYU spokesman who told her:
"BYU remains open to exploring options to add football games this season with schools from any conference playing non-league games, including the PAC-12, and will evaluate week-to-week."