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Wilner: Pac-12 to Target Mid-September Start for Full Conference-Only Football Season

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Can the conference thread the needle to make a season happen?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 27 Washington Spring Game Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A report this morning from Jon Wilner at the Mercury Sun Times states that the Pac-12 will make public by the end of next week a plan to unveil a 10-game conference-only football season beginning on September 19th with a slightly delayed fall camp.

The potential plan laid out would allow every team to have 5 home and 5 away games while only missing a single opponent to keep it from being a true round robin. This is not specifically mentioned but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that one leftover team come from the two previously scheduled to be missed (for UW would mean ASU or UCLA). 2 bye weeks would be inserted into the season to allow for more flexibility in case of COVID-related cancellations and the need for make-ups. There would also be the option to downshift to the original 9 games to add in additional time.

The conference championship game would also have the ability to be pushed back an additional 2 weeks in case make-up games are needed after the scheduled end of the regular season to determine a division champion.

As noted by The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach, conferences cancelled the non-con slate in order to gain flexibility and buy time and this plan would accomplish both. It remains to be seen whether the virus or public health officials will cooperate. Flying an entire team from Arizona to Seattle in order to have a football game may not be something sanctioned by local government and public health officials. It also remains to be seen whether any fans would be able to be in attendance.

This is not a fait accompli. Even if the Pac-12 ends up announcing this exact format in the next week there is still the potential for part of or the entire thing to be scrapped. However, it’s clear that unlike with high school football in the West that the Pac-12 is absolutely doing everything they can to play in the fall (which may or may not be a good thing).

And while this report includes no information about what they’re actually going to do to ensure players’ safety from an operational standpoint, it does seem like the most realistic way to attempt close to a full a season while acknowledging the realities of COVID-19’s impact.

We’ll update this story if more information leaks over the day and of course will bring you any news officially released by the Pac-12 about the revised schedule when it happens.

Update 7/24/20

It looks like the final game added to the schedule would be a home game against UCLA meaning Arizona State is the lone team left out of the almost round robin. The Bruins have 5 home games in their previous schedule while UW had 5 road games suggesting the extra contest would be played in Seattle. It’s unlikely but not impossible then that QB Colson Yankoff will finally get to start in Husky Stadium...just for UCLA.