Pac-12 Football Season to Return with 7 Games, Beginning on Nov. 6
Nearly six weeks after pulling the plug on football, Pac-12 Conference presidents and chancellors on Thursday voted 12-0 to launch a seven-game season beginning on Nov. 6, plus play men's and women's basketball seasons as early as Nov. 25.
No fans will be permitted to attend any of the coming Pac-12 events because of pandemic concerns. Schedules are being compiled from different models, but are not in place yet.
Teams will play all five division rivals and one crossover game, plus a second if they fail to make the title game, to fill out the seven football games.
The conference will have a football championship game on Saturday, Dec. 19, and expects to be considered for inclusion in the College Football Playoff.
"Our school is going to have the opportunity to be in the conversation," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. "There are no minimum number of games. But we enter into this humbly. No one knows."
League officials said things changed since their previous vote, enabling them to and hold another vote and feel comfortable enough to restore these particular fall sports.
Since the decision to postpone on Aug. 11, rapid-testing has been made available to the Pac-12, virus rates have dropped in league cities and long-term cardiac concerns issues have been resolved.
Oregon president Michael Schill, however, sounded a word of caution that a competition pause could result again if virus spikes appear across the conference.
"We're moving forward, but we're not moving ahead with our eyes shut," Schill said. "If things are not safe, we will stop playing."
While government health restrictions on crowd gatherings have been lifted in California and Oregon, officials in Boulder, Colorado, earlier in the day instituted a two-week limitation that could affect practice time for the Colorado football team.
Pac-12 schools will have rapid-testing capabilities available, which appeared to be the big advance in bringing these games back before January. The league voted to earlier postpone all sports competition, partly because of testing issues.
The league leadership group considered voting on whether to play football and the others sports a week ago, but it delayed actions another six days in order to survey athletes and faculty members.
"I spoke with two groups of student-athletes who were so desirous of going back to practicing and playing," Schill said. "COVID-19 has taken so much away from these students. I didn't want to take this from them."
Pac-12 basketball teams could play 20-plus games, depending on how comfortable the league is with scheduling non-conference match-ups. Its new season start will be just a week and a half later than usual.
"This is incredible news for college basketball," Husky coach Mike Hopkins said. "Our medical team, along with many others, have not only kept us healthy but have done a great job teaching us how to practice and prepare carefully during this time."
University of Washington football player reaction was immediate, with junior offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland among the first to weigh in.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris will now compete for the UW starting quarterback job with Jacob Sirmon, Kevin Thomson and Ethan Garbers. He was noticeably happy.
Considering the nearly two-dozen postponements or cancellations nationwide -- Houston has had four games scrapped because of the virus and still hasn't played -- the conference will hope for the best with seven games.
The teams could begin practicing immediately, though the Colorado situation remains muddled. Utah expects to begin on Friday.
Husky football players are just coming out of a week of self-quarantining after returning from a break.
UW senior running back Sean McGrew sounded ready to go with his tweet.
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