Five Questions We're Asking About Washington's Pac-12-Only Schedule
A day after the Big Ten announced that it would play a conference-only schedule in 2020, the University of Washington and the Pac-12 followed suit. When league commissioner Larry Scott announced the latter's intentions, it raised many questions.
Here are five that found myself immediately asking almost immediately when thinking about the coming season.
1. When will the season start?
This is the first and most obvious question. Washington was supposed to host Michigan on Sept. 5, but what now? Will they still start on that date but against a different conference opponent? Will they try to push everyone back to buy more time?
With Michigan a non-conference opponent, Oregon seems the likely first opponent on October 3. Oregon's game against against Ohio State in the second game of the season has been scrubbed. The Ducks travel to Colorado the week before hosting Washington, which has a bye at that time.
If the Huskies don't add a game before Oregon, this essentially would create a staggered start to the season. There are so many moving parts with rearranging a schedule this close to kickoff that it makes it difficult .
2. Will the order of the schedule change?
A quick shuffle of the schedule no doubt will be needed. As mentioned above, it seems the order may need to be modified. This is necessary because teams were slated to begin conference play earlier than others. And TV networks and the schools are going to want to get marquee games in while they can.
3. If the season is delayed does that remove bye weeks?
This is also interesting but really hard to answer because we just don't know what COVID-19 numbers will look like in a month or two. If Scott decides to shift the season back three or four weeks since there are no non-conference games, then the flexibility of suddenly having three open weeks is gone.
Instead, the league maybe should move late-season games to the beginning of the season. Let everyone play two or three games and then slide in a conference-wide bye in order to take inventory.
4. Will they focus on rivalries ?
In order to increase watchable games will they create home-and-home games involving rivalries? For sheer entertainment value, meaning eyeballs-on-TVs, they could create a one-off series for longstanding rivalries.
The Huskies could add a two-game Apple Cup series and two-game Oregon series.
5. Will the Rose Bowl be a Pac-12 Conference-only game?
The strict traditional Pac-12-Big Ten conference matchup has already gone away with the advent of BCS and the College Football Playoffs. Will they have a conference playoff in the Granddaddy of the them all. They could use the Pac-12 championship date as a two-game semifinals for north and south teams to advance to the Rose Bowl.
It seems that nothing is off the table at this point.