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Recapping the Pac-12’s return to play announcement

USC football players received the news they’d been waiting for on Thursday, as the conference announced it would indeed participate in a 2020 fall football season.

Here is a rundown of some of the news and notes of the announcement as they relate to USC.

The football season will begin with games on the Nov. 7 weekend (the first game/s will take place on Friday, Nov. 6). USC would have preferred to start the season earlier, but ultimately the Pac-12 overall wanted to begin at the same time, and Nov. 7 was settled on as the starting date.

Pac-12 teams will play seven total games and six “regular season” games. Of the regular season games, five will be against divisional opponents (USC will play Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA and Utah from the South) and one game against a crossover opponent from the North. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said nothing has been finalized on a schedule yet. That one crossover opponent could have a major effect on the season, as clearly there is no way to provide an equal opponent for every team. That game will count in the standings as far as determining a division winner and conference championship teams.

The conference championship game will take place Friday, Dec. 18. It will be hosted by the team with the best record. All 12 conference teams will play games that weekend, in the second crossover game.

Scott said there are no concerns that playing just seven games will be held against the Pac-12 conference champion when it comes to potential selection into the College Football Playoff field. He added that there have been no discussions about moving the selection timeline back (the final CFP committee meeting is scheduled for Dec. 20) or expanding the playoff field.

The conference said the programs that have clearance from state and local health authorities can begin practicing immediately. USC athletic director Mike Bohn said he doesn’t expect USC to be on the practice field as a team until early October. Head coach Clay Helton said in a statement that USC is in a very good place to enter the upcoming fall camp, as the Trojans have been engaged in some kind of training, with just one interruption, since mid-June.

Bohn was highly effusive in his praise for the USC football players who put together the letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom, urging him to allow the team and conference to play football this fall.

“It is a testament to the strength of the leadership in our football locker room and a symbol of the central role USC plays in the Pac-12 that the letter from our players to California Governor Gavin Newsom galvanized our collective return to play efforts,” Bohn said.

Pac-12 basketball will begin its season on Nov. 25. As with football, those schedules will be released in the near future, according to the Pac-12.

There will be no fans in the stands at Pac-12 events this fall. With no fans, the prospect of 9 am games becomes a consideration. Scott didn’t confirm anything about the schedule, but said there are some “very exciting broadcast windows” available for the conference.

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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