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Pac-12 sets football player minimums, though there’s a workaround

The Pac-12 logo in Rice Eccles Stadium in Utah.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Pac-12 released scholarship and position minimums for teams to follow in order to play.
(George Frey / Getty Images)

The Pac-12 Conference announced on Monday its minimum-player requirements for football games this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with one important disclaimer: Short-handed teams will be allowed to play if they choose to do so.

Of course, some scenarios would make that unlikely.

“If you don’t have a quarterback,” UCLA Coach Chip Kelly said, “you can’t play.”

The Pac-12 set a minimum of 53 scholarship players available per team in addition to position minimums that include seven offensive linemen, four interior defensive linemen and one quarterback. To satisfy the positional requirements, each of those players must be on scholarship.

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If teams fall short of the thresholds and decide they don’t want to play, games will be rescheduled or declared a no-contest. Rescheduling games would be difficult as part of a conference-only schedule that calls for seven games in as many weeks unless the Pac-12 opts to use the final weekend of the season on Dec. 18-19 to make up those games.

UCLA has plenty of new faces on offense this season, but the receiving corps offers an oasis of veteran talent for Chip Kelly and the Bruins.

Additionally, games could be rescheduled or declared a no-contest if there was an inability to isolate new positive coronavirus cases within a team or athletic department or to quarantine high-risk contacts; an unavailability or inability to perform testing as required by Pac-12 medical guidelines; campus-wide or local community transmission rates that were considered unsafe by local public health officials; inability to perform adequate contact tracing consistent with governmental requirements; or if local public health officials of the home team state there was an inability for the hospital infrastructure to accommodate a surge in patients.

The conference also released its tiebreaker procedures to determine division champions as part of an unbalanced schedule. The winner of each division will be determined by the best overall winning percentage within the conference. Should there be a tie for best record in the loss column, head-to-head results would take precedence over winning percentage.

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For teams to be considered in a divisional tiebreaker scenario, they must have played no less than one fewer game than the average number of games played by all conference teams.

Fans aren’t being allowed to attend USC and UCLA football games because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but families of players want to be able to be inside the stadium.

The home team in the conference championship game will be determined by record in all conference games. In the event of a tie, head-to-head record would serve as the tiebreaker if applicable, followed by record against the next-highest-placed common opponent in the conference proceeding down the standings until one team holds an advantage.

There is a scenario in which UCLA could face USC in the conference championship. If the average number of conference games falls to four or fewer, the two teams with the best winning percentage within the conference will participate in the championship game regardless of division affiliation.


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