While the 2020 college football season is underway, it hasn’t felt the same without the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences. Fortunately, the Pac-12 will be returning later this fall after agreeing to restart its upcoming football season.
Just over a month after the Pac-12 postponed fall sports due to concerns over student-athletes’ safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference took a massive step towards returning to the gridiron this fall.
Pac-12 presidents vote to start 2020 football season
Momentum started building at the beginning of September for the Pac-12 to reverse course on its prior decision. The conference announced it found a partner to provide rapid COVID-19 testing, a pivotal connection needed to ensure the safety of football players.
Initially, commissioner Larry Scott expressed confidence that Pac-12 programs could begin play by January. However, more developments in COVID-19 testing and a better understanding of the health risks led to Pac-12 presidents holding a vote on Thursday.
According to The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner, the Pac-12 presidents voted to start their 2020 college football season this fall. The decision also means that college basketball is cleared to return, with its season beginning on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Pac-12 will be the last Power 5 conference to kick off its college football season. On Sept. 16, the Big Ten announced it would begin its season on Oct. 24. The SEC never canceled its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is set to kick off on Saturday after a delayed start.
When will the Pac-12 start its college football season?
The Pac-12 conference announced games will begin on Nov. 6, with the remaining taking place on Nov. 7. Fans will not be allowed to attend any Pac-12 games this year, with the decision set to be revisited in 2021.
It’s a better outcome than the doomsday scenario Scott disclosed In July. In that situation, if problems couldn’t be addressed and the pandemic worsened, Pac-12 programs wouldn’t play until the spring. While this outcome is still a longer delay than fans, players and coaches hoped for, it at least means that programs are closer to returning to the gridiron.
How many games will the Pac-12 play this season?
After releasing a conference-only schedule on July 10, Pac-12 presidents and teams had to make adjustments. Now, per Yahoo Sports, there will be a seven-game, conference-only schedule for the 2020 college football season.
The Pac-12 Championship Game will take place in mid-December, allowing any Pac-12 program to potentially have a shot at being selected for the College Football Playoff. While they would be at a disadvantage from a shorter schedule than the ACC (12-game schedule), SEC (10), Big 12 (10) and Big Ten (eight), it’s better than not having a chance by playing in the spring.
Due to the different conference schedules this season, there will also be changes made for bowl eligibility. According to Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, the NCAA Division I Council is set to vote next month on a proposal to eliminate the win requirement to play in a bowl game this year.