What stands in the way of the Pac-12 playing college football this fall?

Ryan Kostecka

Let me first start by saying that I stand with the coaches and the players of the Pac-12. It shouldn't be up to me — or anyone else for that matter — to decide on whether or not they can play. If they know the risks, are presented with accurate information and chose to play, that should be well within their right and granted.

Alas though, that's not the way the world works.

Rather, the players who assume all the risks in sports and make their respective colleges millions of dollars while not seeing a dime of it, are at the mercy of the Pac-12 CEOs — a group comprised of president's and chancellors of the 12 schools who make the decisions.

Come Thursday afternoon, those CEOs will meet and discuss whether or not a return to college football is the best path to take. And if they chose to grant the wishes of the players, coaches and fans, the start date will be the next topic discussed.

As of right now, the start date appears to be the most pressing of issues — Oct. 31 or Nov. 7. 

Playing in October certainly gives a little more respectability to the return of the conference and a chance at playing in the College Football Playoff. But according to reports, some programs may not be ready to participate by then.

Right now, it appears that every school could be ready to play by Halloween except for UCLA, Cal and Stanford — with the Cardinal being the most problematic and pushing back against an October start.

According to a story by 247sports, the biggest issue for Stanford is the idea of amateurism. Because the college isn't allowing students back onto campus for any extracurricular activities, why should the football team receive preferential treatment and be allowed to participate in campus-wide activities.

The Big Ten is starting in mid-October so it can be considered for the College Football Playoff. Because the programs within that conference continued to train in some sort of capacity, they have a restart set for Oct. 17 — allowing them to play eight conference games before holding a conference championship on Dec. 19.

If the Pac-12 is to begin on Nov. 7, it means that the conference champion will only have seven games to its name — and that's extremely difficult to make a case for the CFP.

“If we’re going to move forward, it’s going to depend on how quickly we can get back to practice," Scott said. "Six weeks would be from Monday (to be ready for a Halloween time start), but we’re only getting these rapid tests next week, so I think that would be the most ambitious, maybe a week or two too quick for us. But somewhere in that zip code is where we would be playing if we’re playing."

Coaches all along have stated that they would need six weeks to properly train and develop their players. But according to reports, coaches could be ready within four weeks if needed — which would make that Halloween start date applicable.

One potential option could be having those who are ready, willing and able to play on Oct. 31 play, with everyone who isn't taking that extra week to prepare for games to begin on Nov. 7.

Regardless of the start date, no college football for the Pac-12 will take place in the fall if the local governments don't allow it. 

Right now, the issue are the programs and them submitting proposals for local amendment that would allow them to practice. California — regardless of what Gov. Newsom says — is only allowing groups of no more than 12 to practice together. In order to play, that number has to be higher than 60.

With that being said, whatever happens on Thursday will undoubtedly be a huge step forwards or backwards regarding the Pac-12 and its status among the Power 5 conferences.

Don't be confused, there are risks and rewards for playing and risks and rewards for not playing. How that gets delved out is beyond me — but one way or another, an answer is needed on Thursday.

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