While momentum continues to move toward a Pac-12 fall season, it still isn’t officially on the books. The Pac-12 CEO Group, comprised of the conference’s presidents and chancellors, met Friday to discuss potentially playing football before January 1, the date the conference originally set as the first possible day for all conference sports when it announced the postponement last month.
The group did not deliver a decision following the Friday meeting, releasing a statement instead.
“The Pac-12 CEO Group had an informative and productive meeting earlier today,” the Pac-12 announced. “We plan to reconvene this coming Thursday, September 24 to make a decision regarding possible return to play prior to January 1. The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports will continue to be our number one priority in all of our decision making.”
The Quidel testing machines that commissioner Larry Scott hailed as a “game-changer” in their ability to return antigen tests in 15 minutes are set to arrive on campuses early next week. A meeting on Thursday would give schools potentially a few days to implement the machines and all the protocols and infrastructure surrounding their use, before the CEO Group announced their decision.
Scott has been consistent in saying the conference would like six weeks of training camp–likely split into a true fall camp and a conditioning session that ramps up to fall camp–before the schedule begins. If teams were able to hit the field on Friday following the Thursday meeting, six weeks would land on Nov. 6, a day before a potential start to the season on Nov. 7.
The delay in deciding on a season today likely means both Oct. 24–the date the Big Ten has announced as the start of its fall season–and Oct. 31–the date the Pac-12 announced as a best-case scenario–are not going to happen. An Oct. 31 start would necessitate the conference drop down to a five-week ramp up, which is unlikely as some coaches have said they’d like as many as eight weeks to get ready for a season.
With a Nov. 7 start date, the conference could play six regular season games, plus a championship games (with all other programs playing a seventh game that day as well) before the College Football Playoff committee convenes its final meeting and announces the four playoff teams.
At this point, there has been no public discussion about moving that final committee meeting back in order to allow for more games to be played before settling on a top four.
USC will be ready to go whenever they get the green light. With some state and local restrictions lifted, the Trojans were able to move workouts back inside, and use the McKay Center gym for the first time in months.