The road to the 2020 college football season has been quite a rollercoaster with many changing plans and just because some schools began their season Saturday doesn't mean it's over.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 remain in the offseason but perhaps not for too much longer. At least, it appears that Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez and head coach Paul Chryst will be ready to play whenever the Big Ten conference decides, per Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports.
The three-week timeline is half the amount of preparation time as Pac-12 schools, such as Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith, have stated.
In August after the Pac-12 unanimously agreed to delay all athletics until 2021, Smith and athletic director Scott Barnes stated that they would need six weeks of full-contact workouts ahead of the Beavers first game.
When the Big Ten and Pac-12 both decided to delay their college football seasons to 2021, there was hope that the two teams could play alongside one another and have each conference champion meet in the 2021 Rose Bowl, per Ross Delelnger of Sports Illustrated.
But, if the Big Ten moves the season forward to October 2020, then the Pac-12 could be the lone Power 5 conference not playing college football this year. ESPN reports that a vote to move up the Big Ten season can come as soon as Sunday.
Could the Pac-12 follow suit? Perhaps. Especially given the conference announced a partnership with Quidel Corporation, a diagnostic test leader, to implement up to daily COVID-19 testing of student-athletes.
“This is a major step toward the safe resumption of Pac-12 sport competitions,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “The availability of a reliable test that can be administered daily, with almost immediate results, addresses one of the key concerns that was expressed by our medical advisory committee, as well as by student-athletes, coaches and others."
According to the Pac-12’s website, Quidel’s Sofia 2 testing machines and tests are expected to be delivered to each of the Pac-12’s athletic departments by the end of September 2020. Over the coming weeks, the Pac-12 plans to review this latest testing breakthrough with its sport planning committees and to evaluate the impact on return to competition scenarios.
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If daily testing can reliably happen, then why couldn't the Pac-12 move up the all-conference college football schedule?
Oregon has told its players to report to campus on September 20th with training beginning a week later. 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 7th, two months ahead of the currently, tentatively scheduled January 1st, 2021 date.
Larry Scott is also optimistic about college basketball starting before January 1, 2021: "I am hopeful today’s news and what’s coming from the NCAA will provide us a pathway to start before Jan. 1."
But, Oregon and the Pac-12 have stated that player safety is the top priority so we'll just need to wait and see if the season gets moved up.