Big Ten decides to play football this fall, Pac-12 becomes lone Power 5 conference sitting out

Every Power 5 conference will be playing fall football by the end of October. Will the Pac12?
Every Power 5 conference will be playing fall football by the end of October. Will the Pac12?
AP photo

The Big Ten started the trend, and most others followed. Now, after watching the SEC, ACC and Big 12 compete during the coronavirus pandemic, they’re switching course.

On August 5, the Big Ten was the first to wipe out their non-conference schedules for fall sports, the first Power 5 to make a major decision regarding the college football season. The Pac12 and others followed suit.

Six days later, on August 11, the Big Ten canceled their 2020 season with hopes of playing in the spring. Again, other Division I conferences followed. But not the SEC, ACC, Big 12, American Athletic Conference, Ohio Valley,  Sun Belt or Southern conferences.

Today, the Big Ten is reversing their decision after a vote by the conference’s chancellors and presidents. Rapid-testing, and the ability to prevent spread of COVID-19 before players or staff are the two main reasons why the Big Ten reversed their decision.

The Pac12 is now the only conference of the Power 5 (ACC, SEC, Big12, Big Ten, Pac 12) that will not be playing this fall. For now. They were the first to make a deal with a testing diagnostics company to get their hands on rapid-testing for their student-athletes. Each athletic department is set to receive two testing machines by the end of September.

With the mounting pressure from all other conferences playing, the Pac12 risks losing relevance in recruiting, and missing out on the College Football Playoff this season.

The states of Oregon and California still have tight restrictions on workouts, limiting six conference schools. UCLA, Cal Berkeley, Stanford, University of Oregon, Oregon State and USC. Several Trojans players sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week, asking him to lift restrictions like he did for the Los Angeles Rams and San Francsico 49ers. Read more about that letter here.

Quidel, the company that the Pac12 entered an agreement with for rapid-testing at every school, has released medical evidence that their form of COVID-19 testing may actually be more stringent than the NFL’s testing regimen, and prevent the spread of the virus more effectively.

Pac12 commissioner Larry Scott said this rapid-testing deal was a “gamechanger” on ESPN’s College Gameday two weeks ago. He did not guarantee an earlier start than January to their season, but he did say it was more likely with better testing available.

Adding to the pressure for the Pac, is the Mountain West and Midwestern Athletic Conference considering to start their seasons this fall as well.