College

Can Pac-12 get the OK to play?

College

Usually, when everyone else is doing something and you’re not, it’s time to take stock. Do some evaluating.

The process would be, "Am I wrong? Is everybody else right?"

Or… the other choice would be, "I’m not going to go do something stupid just because everyone else is doing it."

That’s kind of the situation the Pac-12 found itself in this morning, when the Big 10 decided to do a U-turn and play football this fall.

Which left the Pac-12 as the only power-5 conference NOT playing football.

And at this point, it’s not the conference putting itself in this bind, it’s a couple of state governments. They have to make the first move.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has decreed that college teams can’t even have a group practice, let alone play a game -- and that’s in spite of the fact that professional football teams in the state have been allowed to practice and play games. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has been in lockstep with Newsom throughout most of the pandemic and this state is in the same position in regard to college football as California.

So, here we are with half the teams in the conference locked out of football by their state governments.

In most of the country, the more-readily-available test kits for COVID-19 have made a return to sports more plausible. And the conferences have been free to do their own thing.

I’m not sure if the governors of these two states will bend anytime soon to the pressure that they are sure to face from alumni and football fans. But here’s the problem that has haunted the Pac-12 for years now:

 

College football just isn’t as important out this way as it is in other parts of the country. I know, you love your team. You buy the gear and pay for the tickets.

But this isn’t Texas, Alabama, Florida, Ohio or Michigan. And I’ve thought for quite a while that might be one of the reasons the Pac-12 hasn’t provided multiple teams in the hunt for a national championship. 

Yes, it’s popular in the west. But it’s nowhere near what it is in the hotbeds of the sport, where it’s almost a religion.

And so, will there be enough sentiment to push our governments into allowing teams to play while all the other big-time conferences are doing it?

I think so. Maybe. But it’s going to take a real show of strength by those with influence in Salem and Sacramento.

Do those people exist on the west coast? We are about to find out.