Earlier this week the Pac-12 unanimously agreed to delay all fall athletics into 2021, including college football, canceling the fall all-conference college football season scheduled to begin on September 26.
In wake of the conference's decision, Oregon State Athletic Director Scott Barnes and head football coach Jonathan Smith held a press conference to take questions about the school's predicament due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Barnes stated that the conference made the decision due to advice from an advisory medical group to call the fall athletic season earlier than some pundits may have wanted. How much thought went into the decision? "Enough information that was concerning enough to make that decision," according to Barnes.
Additionally, the conference wanted to give the athletic directors clarity for when athletics can begin. That date? January 1, 2021 is the earliest a Pac-12 athletic competition can be played.
If the pandemic appears to be in a better place by the end of 2020, then January 1 will be the absolute soonest the Beavers will be back on the field. If that's the case, Barnes and Smith stated that they would need six weeks of full-contact workouts ahead of their first game. Therefore, a fall camp could begin as soon as mid-November.
With the January 1 target in mind, Barnes said that while playing out all fall, winter and spring sports in a few months may be hard logistically, Oregon State wants to play when safe, including a delayed football season.
We have not canceled football. - Scott Barnes
Until then, Jonathan Smith and the Beavs will continue to better their craft. Smith stated that the majority of the team wanted to continue training and practicing, so the rest of this week will be as originally scheduled, with future weeks of training being changed due to the delayed schedule.
As for how Oregon State has handled the virus? Smith had nothing but glowing things to say, even agreeing with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who said that he believes student-athletes are safer on campus with their precautions than they are in their hometowns.
"I do [agree with Trevor Lawrence] and I think it's been proven over the past couple months that we've had them here. We've been so successful of avoiding any type of outbreak or for that matter positive test... It is really safe here and if you went across our roster comparing it to the areas they live in I [do] believe it is safer [on campus]."
Later in the conference call, Barnes and Smith were asked about if the Big 12 and SEC's decision to play a college football season "in any sort of shape or form," would look bad on the Pac-12 and negatively impact recruiting.
"You said 'in any sort of shape or form,' that's not what we're looking for," responded Barnes. "We're looking for the safety of our student-athletes. That is a primary concern so we stand by our decision and crippling through a season with any number of positives or worse is not what we're looking for."
"I think that would echo in our recruiting talks," added the Beavers head coach. "When we sit down with not just the players themselves but the families that we're always going to take the utmost caution and always be putting their health and wellness first and foremost and I think parents would be very comfortable sending their sons our way."
If the college football season does indeed begin in January, Barnes isn't sure fans will be in attendance. He stressed that the program will continue to follow health and safety guidelines given by health officials and prioritize the safety of the student-athlete above all else.
Whether or not Beaver nation will get to see the new team in-person anytime soon remains unknown. Until then, we all eagerly await for the day Oregon State and the rest of the Pac-12 gets the go-ahead to compete on the field, safely.