Conference-only schedule becoming a possibility

Ryan Kostecka

At this point, there is nobody in the country who can definitively say that there will or will not be a college football season this year. Yes everyone knows the potential monetary ramifications that would happen if there was no season — but at what point is it worth risking the health and safety of people in the country?

If it's that much of a confusion as to the state of college football this year, then trying to decipher what that season will be like if it were to happen appears downright impossible.

Well, here are the latest rumblings from the nation and the Pac-12 as it pertains to the upcoming season.

Many people want college football to happen and will go to great lengths to ensure the safety of those involved, but with the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases throughout the nation, there are now alternative options being discussed within the brass of the Pac-12 conference.

The Pac-12 is once again strongly considering an altered schedule for its 12 teams, and even potentially the postponement of the season until the spring. All 12 programs have been notified by the conference that if the season were to start on time as planned, it might do so with the intention of conference-only games.

“There is so much unknown and so much fluidness to the situation that it’s really pointless to try to pinpoint any one direction that we are going to go in," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said six weeks ago, which still stands true to this day. "We are just going to have to wait and see and go from there." 

That means that the Holy War between Utah and BYU would not happen — which is how both teams were expected to begin their respective seasons. It means that Oregon would no longer face Ohio State and that Stanford/USC would not be playing Notre Dame either. 

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"I don’t know if we’ll be playing teams from other conferences or not, but I think we can make the conference work," Arizona State President Michael Crow said in an article published on POLITICO. "That’s basically what we’re headed towards. I’d say that it’s becoming increasingly likely, and we’re putting all of our energy into making that happen.”

One of the good things is that this conference-only scenario was discussed previously about two months ago, so it's not coming as a total shock to the coaches in the conference. In fact, `Whittingham was all for a conference-only season if it was the only way to play this year.

“If it comes to playing a conference schedule, we are all in,” Whittingham stated a month and a half ago. “If that’s what it takes to get the season in and get things done in the best fashion possible then that’s what we go with. I think we are several weeks out from having any real concrete direction on what is going to happen and how things are going to set up.”

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The three most realistic options on the table are...

— Play the original season as scheduled
— Add an additional conference game and play a 10-game conference schedule with just ONE non-conference game. The other non-conference game would then be used as a bye week.
— Play an 11 game conference-only schedule. Each team would play their nine regularly scheduled conference games while adding two more conference games to be played in place of the non-conference games.

“Right now, all options are on the table as things that we have talked about as a conference,” Whittingham said six weeks ago. “I think there is a lot of questions that have to be answered first. The ideal situation is that we start on time and play the normal schedule and have fans in the stands. I think the odds are probably against that.”

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