Pac-12 presidents vote to play 7-game football season starting in November


Every Power Five conference is planning to play football in the fall of 2020.

Pac-12 presidents voted Thursday to start the 2020 season on the first weekend of November. The decision comes two days before the SEC season is set to begin and exactly a month before the delayed 2020 Big Ten season is slated to start.

Each of the conference’s teams will reportedly play seven games and the conference title game would be December 18. The decision would allow the Pac-12 to be considered as part of the College Football Playoff selection process. A Pac-12 team hasn’t made the playoff since Washington lost to Alabama in the Peach Bowl at the end of the 2016 season.

Like the Big Ten, the Pac-12 will also have every team in the conference play on conference championship weekend. The second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth-place teams will play the corresponding teams in the opposite division. An official schedule was not announced Thursday.

The Pac-12 made its decision to push the 2020 fall sports season to the spring of 2021 on Aug 11, just hours after the Big Ten made the same decision. But the ability to obtain a deal with a company for daily rapid COVID-19 testing made it possible that the Pac-12 could play in the fall.

“From the beginning of this crisis, our focus has been on following the science, data and counsel of our public health and infectious disease experts,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “Our agreement with Quidel to provide daily rapid-results testing has been a game-changer in enabling us to move forward with confidence that we can create a safe environment for our student-athletes while giving them the opportunity to pursue their dreams. At the same time, we will continue to monitor health conditions and data and be ready to adjust as required in the name of the health of all.”

So did the ability of all of the teams in the conference to be able to meet and practice. Teams in California and Oregon had long been governed by state and local restrictions that limited large gatherings. But the governors of both states said earlier in the month that they wouldn’t stand in the way of the start of a football season.

The Pac-12’s decision to postpone football in August wasn’t met with as much scrutiny as the Big Ten’s. That was likely because the Pac-12 released a medical document helping explain their decision-making process and also because the conference wasn’t being pushed to play football right away by President Donald Trump.

The conference did, however, reportedly make its decision to postpone partially on the basis of flawed COVID-19 data.

The decision to play in November helps Colorado, which has now been barred from practicing until Oct. 8. The city of Boulder has implemented strict social distancing rules and gathering limits for the next two weeks as coronavirus cases have spiked among Colorado students.

Hours after the Pac-12 said it would play in the fall, the Mountain West followed suit. The only FBS conference that’s not playing this fall is the Mid-American Conference, though that could change on Friday.

Basketball will start in 2020 too

The Pac-12 postponed all sports to Jan. 1 when it made its August announcement. Thursday, the conference said that the men’s and women’s basketball seasons would begin on Nov. 25 — the previously announced start date by the NCAA.

Many teams will be playing conference-heavy schedules during the 2020-21 season because of the previous uncertainty with scheduling and conferences’ desires to prevent cross-country travel.

The Pac-12 said that other winter sports will begin practices and varying times.

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  A detail view of the Pac-12 logo on the field at Stanford Stadium prior to the 122nd Big Game between the Stanford Cardinal and the California Golden Bears on November 23, 2019 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
Pac-12 football is back in 2020. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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