Pac-12 Likely to Approve Fall Football Thursday, But Uncertainties Remain

Jake Curtis

The Pac-12 university presidents are set to vote on Thursday on a proposed fall football season, and although they appear likely to approve a fall season, several issues are still unclear, especially if health restrictions in some regions prove problematic.

Three key questions remain:

---How many games will the Pac-12 play?

The conference is likely play a six-game or seven-game season, according to a Sports Illustrated report, which is basically half of a typical college football season. All games would be against Pac-12 opponents, with each team presumably playing its five division foes and one or two opponents from the other division.  For Cal that would mean games against Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Stanford and one or two teams from the South Division. Cal has an agreement with the Pac-12 that it would play USC and UCLA every year, but that may not be possible this season.

---When will the Pac-12 fall season start?

A Pac-12 season is expected to start either Oct. 31 or Nov. 7, and that is likely to depend on how many games the Pac-12 decides to play. A seven-game season would probably require an Oct. 31 start, while a six-game season could start on Nov. 7. The Pac-12 needs to start its fall season by then so it could play its conference championship game before Dec. 20, the date the College Football Playoff selection committee will name the four teams that will compete in the national championship playoff.

Either date would represent the latest start of any of the Power Five conferences.  The ACC, SEC and Big 12 will all be under way by this weekend, and the Big Ten is scheduled to start Oct. 24. 

---Will every Pac-12 team be ready to play games on the designated starting day?

That is the million-dollar question at the moment. Cal and Stanford are the Pac-12 teams most in danger of not being ready in time because of the health restrictions put in place by Alameda County and Santa Clara County, respectively.

Cal safety Elijah Hicks said on Wednesday that the team is still doing workouts in groups of 12 while social distancing with no pads and no contact. Teams typically need a two-week ramp-up period followed by a four-week preseason practice period or training camp.

**Elijah Hicks on Wednesday, discussing Cal's current workout status:

Cal is still a ways from being ready to begin a four-week training camp, which leads to the question: Would the Pac-12 begin a fall season without all 12 teams participating on the opening date?

And the uncertainties lead to another question: Would any of these questions cause the Pac-12 presidents to delay a final decision on a fall football season?

The Pac-12 announced on August 12 that it was canceling its fall football season and all fall sports until at least January 1.  However, an agreement with a COVID-19 testing system that will provide frequent and rapid test results made a fall season possible.  That testing system is expected to be in place by the end of September. 

The other Power Five conferences (SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten) have already decided to play in the fall, and the Mountain West Conference is expected to vote this week to restart football this fall as well. The American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt and Conference USA are also playing football this fall. The remaining FBS conference, the Mid-American Conference, is considering a return to football in the fall, but has not made a decision yet.

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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