Pac-12 football took a significant step toward returning to play Wednesday when Oregon and California governors lifted state restrictions that prevented half of the conference from practicing normal practices.
If all goes well, the conference could resume the football season in late October or early November so it generally aligns with the Big Ten, ACC, SEC and Big 12 during the season’s end.
The next step for the Pac-12 teams in California and Oregon – and it is believed to be manageable – is to coordinate with their local health officials about safety protocols for training and competition.
Two California counties (Santa Clara and Los Angeles), home to three of the Pac-12 teams, have already signed up to allow the NFL franchises to practice and play within their jurisdictions.
Additionally, permission from California Governors Gavin Newsom and Oregon Kate Brown should facilitate the process at the local level by allowing authorities to focus on protocols specific to the soccer teams and not bound by broader guidelines for recreational and athletic activities within their provinces.
In essence, the six teams have been granted exemptions from above.
“The Pac-12 welcomes today’s statements … that state health officials will allow contact drills and return to competition and that there are no state restrictions on our ability to exercise in light of our adherence to strict health conditions. and security protocols and strict testing requirements, ”the conference said Wednesday afternoon.
“Our universities in California and Oregon will now individually contact their relevant regional public health officials to clarify what is required to receive the same consent to resume contact practice and competition.”
The statement came at 4 p.m. and ended a furious news day that began with the Big Ten’s announcement that it will begin a shortened football season on the weekend of Oct. 23-24.
Whether the Pac-12 can reboot that quickly is uncertain:
The conference awaits the arrival of responsive antigen testing at the end of the month, and it may take several days for the program to fully ramp up so players can be tested daily.
In addition, the Pac-12 medical team believes that players should practice for at least one month to prepare for the season, although there is sure to be a heated discussion with the coaches about the specific number of practice days required.
Those issues make a flush reboot with the Big Ten unlikely, but could put the Pac-12 in position to start playing on Halloween, if everything goes smoothly.
The first Saturday of November could be more realistic, with a regular six-game season culminating in the Pac-12 Championship on December 19.
With only seven or eight games on his resume, the champion probably wouldn’t qualify for the College Football Playoff.
The Pac-12’s best hope for a berth is disruption elsewhere:
If the SEC, Big 12 and ACC are forced to delay a handful of games due to coronavirus outbreaks, the CFP could move into the second half of January, allowing the Pac-12 to add games and line up a legitimate contender.
The third news story on Wednesday came from the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, where the Division I Council approved a revised basketball calendar with November 25 as the first day of the regular season.
The Pac-12 has suspended basketball competition until January 1, but in light of developments in the Covid-19 tests, it is expected to re-evaluate the decision.
In order to play on November 25 – and given the time it takes players to prepare for the season – teams should start practicing at the end of October.
The Pac-12 track and field leaders and football and basketball coaches have meetings scheduled for the next 48 hours.
The presidents and chancellors meet on Friday. Although scheduled ahead of today’s events, the session delves into possible restart dates for both sports.
One source said all decisions – whether by formal vote or general consensus – would come with the caveat that local health officials lift current restrictions.
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