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Pac-12 is finalizing a 10-game plan for football season

The Pac-12 logo at Sun Devil Stadium
The Pac-12 is finalizing a hopeful plan for a 10-game, conference-only football schedule for the 2020 season.
(Ralph Freso / Associated Press)

As conference leaders scramble for scheduling solutions ahead of the tentative start to college football, the Pac-12 is finalizing a plan for a 10-game, conference-only slate, amid a backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases across the region.

The Pac-12’s proposal would call for a Sept. 19 start to the season, two weeks after most of the conference’s schools were originally scheduled to open the season. Teams would have 14 weeks to play 10 conference games, which would include one more opponent than usual from the opposite division.

For USC, that probably means adding Washington State or Oregon State to its 2020 slate, while UCLA would add Washington or Oregon. Those tentative additions have already forced some shuffling of the conference’s original schedule, which may look very different once the Pac-12’s proposal is officially voted on by university presidents.

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Multiple bye weeks and potential fill-in dates at the end of the season will be left available for any games that require rescheduling.

The Pac-12 championship game is currently slated for Dec. 4 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, but that could also be shifted, if necessary.

The more pressing date will be when conference teams are first able to open fall camp. While most players are now on their respective campuses, the conference has yet to allow mandatory workouts. At USC, coaches were allowed to be on the field with their players for the first time this week.

With a full month necessary for fall camp, ahead of the season’s start, conference schools would have to open camp in mid-August to allow for a Sept. 19 start.

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For now, the conference will have to hope that it can get that far. On Wednesday, California reported a record high of COVID-19 fatalities in the state, while its cumulative case count rose higher this week than any other state in the nation.

As their children return to campus, parents of athletes at UCLA and USC say the schools need to take a safety-first approach to the coronavirus.

Those circumstances led the California Interscholastic Federation earlier this week to postpone the high school football season until at least December.

Two weeks earlier, in announcing the decision to move to a conference-only schedule, Commissioner Larry Scott explained that the Pac-12 would “need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

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While that delay is still intact, a plan could soon tentatively be in place. Whether it’ll be flexible enough for Pac-12 football to actually move forward is anyone’s guess.


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