Pac12 conference changes course, makes heavy push to play football this fall

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

There is no longer such a thing as one single piece of breaking sports news, especially in college football. The pressure was put on the Pac12 conference this morning after the Big Ten conference reversed their initial decision regarding football, and put out a plan to start playing as early as Oct. 24.

One tweet after another, a lack of communication within the Pac12, state governors and universities was revealed. It started over the weekend with several USC football players asking California governor Gavin Newsom to make the same exemption for COVID-19 regulations that he made for the states professional teams, the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers.

Before Wednesday, six schools in Oregon and California were the only ones in the Pac12 who had not been cleared by health officials to resume full contact practices. That is the main reason why commissioner Larry Scott held back when applauding the conference’s new deal with Quidel Corp., a diagnostic testing company that will provide rapid-response testing for the Pac12.

That changed Wednesday evening, as both states lifted restrictions on those schools, and the Pac12 is now in business to have a fall football season.


The following is pulled from a statement by Scott: “At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice,” the statement from Scott read. “We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition.”

On Wednesday, what California Gov. Gavin Newsom told Jon Wilner of the Mercury News directly opposed that.

Newsom’s rules would make full contact, normal football practice near impossible. His rules state, “IHEs (institutions of higher education) should establish cohorts as a strategy to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19. A cohort may be composed of six to 12 individuals, all members of the same team, who consistently work out and participate in activities together.”

Wilner said he talked to a health department official regarding football practices in California, this is an excerpt from his article:

“Teams can find work-arounds to 11-on-11 practices.

They can have walk-throughs, he suggested. They can practice against air. They can use Virtual Reality and tackle dummies. They can use mental exercises.

Those are all means by which teams can conduct a practice and prepare for a game, he said.”

Practice against air. Let that soak in.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown responded via a spokesperson a few hours later, saying the state of Oregon granted Oregon State and the University of Oregon exemption from the OHA’s sports guidance, but they need a written plan from the Pac12 and need to approve it before the Ducks and Beavers can practice normally.

This is the latest, and it looks like the commissioner Gov. Newsom communicated Wednesday, and it could turn into good news for USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal Berkeley if the 12-person cohort maximum is adjusted.


Something that is clear through all of this communication on Twitter is that these are new lines of communication. Nothing other than the coronavirus pandemic has necessitated communication between state governors, conference commissioners, athletic directors, coaches and public health officials.