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BREAKING: Pac-12 CEO’s Vote to Return to Play

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The Huskies will return to the field the weekend of November 7th

Pac-12 Championship Game - Oregon v Utah Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Pac-12 football is back on the menu.

In a move that has been building since the Big 10 announced a similar vote, today the Pac-12 CEOs met and officially okayed the reinstatement of a fall football season. The major question was whether the official start date would be October 31st or November 7th. It appears that the answer is everyone starting on Saturday November 7th (with the potential for a Friday 11/6 game) and playing 7 games with a title game just before the College Football Playoff selection.

With 6 games it means each team will have an even 3/3 split between home and away which is what Jimmy Lake advocated for on his coaches’ show last night. It means the Huskies will play each of the other teams in the North division plus one crossover game entering the final weekend. In an interesting wrinkle it appears the #2 finishers in each division will face off on that final Saturday and the same for the #3, #4, etc. We’ll see how long it takes for the final schedule to be released.

Both men’s and women’s basketball along with all other winter sports are expected to begin once those seasons are allowed to start per NCAA schedules.

The Pac-12 originally postponed all sports until the calendar turned to 2021 after receiving a briefing from the conference’s medical group which raised concerns over COVID-19 testing capabilities/contact tracing and the threat of myocarditis. Several weeks ago the Pac-12 signed an agreement with Quidel Corp to provide daily antigen testing that could provide results in as soon as 15 minutes. This allowed the Pac-12 to ensure that players were negative before every practice and game which greatly reduces the chance of a substantial outbreak and make contact tracing much easier.

However, playing football before December seemed unlikely until the Big 10 decided to expedite their timeline to late October. Despite comments from Larry Scott that it was up to the public health departments of California and Oregon to change their policies, things moved rapidly as soon as there was urgency put behind the push to play. The biggest motivator was likely the chance to split the payout money from the College Football Playoff.

It’s important to note that the final plan gives no wiggle room should a team face an outbreak. There are no byes and no chance to reschedule should one team be required to forfeit. The hope is that daily testing will prevent team-wide spread but a failure to follow protocols outside of practice/games could still lead to issues. Plenty could still go wrong.

But here’s to hoping for the best. Luckily the Pac-12 has Larry Scott on the job overseeing everything. Wait, that doesn’t make me feel better.

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Stay tuned for more updates on this story as it continues to unfold