Mountain West May Start Football Oct. 24 – Does That Affect Pac-12?

San Jose State might start its 2020 football season before Cal doesPhoto by Nelson Chenault - USA TODAY Sports

Jake Curtis

Officials of the Mountain West Conference -- or as Pac-12 folks like to say, the "other" West Coast conference -- are optimistic that it will start its fall football season on October 24, according to a report by Yahoo.com's Pete Thamel.

A vote of the Mountain West university presidents could be conducted Friday, or perhaps sooner, on whether to approve the plan developed on Monday by Mountain West athletic directors.

The news is significant to the Pac-12 and Cal for two reasons:

---1. Three of the Mountain West teams -- Fresno State, San Diego State and San Jose State -- are located in California, where four Pac-12 schools reside, and San Jose State is located in Santa Clara County, which includes Stanford. 

Presumably San Jose State would need clearance from Santa Clara County health officials to begin full-contact practice.  Stanford officials have been discussing ways the Cardinal can get clearance from the country to begin full-contact practice.  Santa Clara County and Alameda County, which is where Cal is located, have some of the most restrictive health guidelines, making Cal and Stanford pivotal components of the Pac-12's plan to play fall football.

Cardinal head coach David Shaw posted this message on his Twitter account on Monday:

It's hard to imagine San Jose State would be ready to play games Oct. 24 considering the restrictions in Santa Clara County.

---2. An Oct. 24 starting date for the Mountain West would put its first game before the opening game of a Pac-12 fall football season.

Speculation is that the Pac-12 university presidents will vote on Thursday to approve a plan for the conference to play football this fall, but the most likely starting dates, according to reports, are Oct. 31 and Nov. 7.

Apparently the Mountain West sees a way to start sooner, putting it in line with the Big Ten's starting date, and leaving the Pac-12 as the last FBS conference, other than the Mid-American Conference, to begin fall football. (The MAC is still debating whether it will restart its football season in the fall.)

According to the Thamel report, the Mountain West is planning an eight-game schedule that would allow its conference championship game to be played on Dec. 19, one day before the selection committee names the teams to participate in the College Football Playoff and the other New Year's Six bowl games.

It remains uncertain whether a Pac-12 fall season, if approved, would be completed in time for the champion to be eligible for those 12 elite bowl berths (two College Football Playoff semifinal games as well as the Cotton, Orange, Fiesta and Peach bowls).

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