NCAA

Big Ten announces return to play, Pac-12 players plead to do the same

NCAA

The Big Ten is no longer watching from the sideline.

On Tuesday, the league's Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted in favor of returning to play for the 2020 season.

Teams will begin their season on October 23-24.

In order to successfully return to play, the league will implement a stringent COVID-19 testing policy. 

According to the official press release, the Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers, etc. that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily testing, any student that tests positive will have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing, and each school will appoint a Chief Infection Officer who will oversee the collection and reporting of data for the Big Ten Conference.

“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, Head Team Physician, The Ohio State University and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee.    “The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”

The news is great for college football fans and great for the Big Ten, but what about the Pac-12?

The Pac-12 now sits alone as the only Power 5 conference that is not currently scheduled to return to play.

 

Earlier this month the conference announced a landmark deal with Quidel Corporation to help provide COVID-19 testing for the conference. But that news didn't bring about a return to play.

For some, the Pac-12's decision to remain idle while football returns around the country just doesn't make sense.

USC football players released a joint statement Tuesday, pleading with California Governor Gavin Newsom that he let them return to the field.

But it wasn't just USC. Players from all across the conference took to Twitter to plead for a return to play, including numerous Ducks.

Even Former Washington State head coach Mike Leach showed support for his partners out west.

Leach was a guest on the Paul Finebaum Show, where he gave his take on what is going on with the Pac-12.

"I think it’s very sad for those teams...There’s a lot of great dedicated players and coaches that all would very much like to play. If they can, they need to be given that opportunity. I think a lot of times you get a lot of administrators in the room, and it becomes very bureaucratic and I’m not sure they didn’t pull the plug too soon. When you consider around the world, nearly every sport is playing, every one of them. Europe and all the rest. I think about those coaches, those players, those fans. It’s real easy to say ‘let’s not because we’ll be less scrutinized if we do it one way instead of the other.’ But there’s a lot of people sacrificing an awful lot to not play this year over there." - Mike Leach on the Pac-12

Will the Pac-12 follow the lead set by all the other conferences around the country? If they do, it doesn't appear it will happen anytime soon.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott released the following statement Wednesday morning:

“At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice. We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition. We are equally closely monitoring the devastating fires and air quality in our region at this time. We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals.”