Pac-12 football may be played in 2020 after all.
On Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom denied that the state’s regulations were preventing the Pac-12 from holding games after Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement urging players to write to their state officials to lift government regulations that are slowing the conference’s ability to return.
Then, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown granted Oregon and Oregon State's exemption to OHA’s sports guidance, an exemption given to Oregon’s professional sports teams, but "OHA must receive written plans for approval."
Oregon had already told its players to report to campus on September 20 with training beginning a week later. Meanwhile, other Pac-12 coaches such as Oregon State's Jonathan Smith have stated they need six weeks of full-contact practice before playing games.
If that's the case, and the six-week training period is implemented, then the Pac-12 college football season could begin as soon as November 7, speculatively speaking, two months ahead of the tentatively scheduled January 1, 2021 timeline.
Well, that timeline may be out the window given the latest comments from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who joined ESPN's Sportscenter Wednesday evening.
"The best-case scenario is six weeks of practice training camp and start in the end of October, early November," said Scott. "But that is still subject to county approvals which we don’t have yet. So that is the best case. And we’re going to do everything possible to play this fall if we can. Play a Pac-12 Championship Game and have teams compete for a College Football Playoff if it is possible."
If Oregon cannot even begin training until after the 20th, then the program cannot train for the recommended six weeks if the Pac-12 goes with a late-October start to college football. The Big Ten plans to begin football the weekend of October 23-24 with the Big Ten Championship Game scheduled for December 19, one day before the College Football Playoff teams are selected.
"Some good progress today with the Governors of California and Oregon sending some strong signals that they’re supportive and that state regulations won’t be hurdles," said Scott. "This combined with access to daily testing which we’ve secured, gives our medical professionals comfort that we can return safely. So we’re gonna figure out what this all means. We still need approval from the local health officials in the counties in California and Oregon. But we’re going to push the envelope. Our student-athletes want to play, our coaches want to play. Our schools want to do so if we can do so safely, and today was a big step forward toward that."
As reported by Mercury News writer Jon Wilner, rapid-response antigen tests, provided by Quidel Corp, will allow football teams to test players for COVID-19 immediately before practice and games, thereby preventing on-field transmission by pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic players.
Per Wilner, the 15-min Quidel product tests were 96 percent to 98 percent accurate in sensitivity (finding the antigens) and 100 percent accurate in specificity (finding the right antigens).