There are reasons for optimism when it comes to the possibility of having a Pac-12 season in 2020. There are still some hurdles to overcome before the Pac-12 CEO Group and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott decide to begin the season, but on Thursday’s NFL Draft Insiders Podcast, Pro Football Network Insider Tony Pauline mentioned that the conference could follow in the footsteps of the Big Ten.

“The Pac-12 is a little bit more complicated from a political point of view. Obviously, it’s more complicated from the fact that you’ve got wildfires out there and forest fires out there in many of the states that the Pac-12 plays in. It’s also the fact that football is not the same priority in the Pac-12 as it is in the Big Ten, which is why I think there was a bigger uproar when the Big Ten made the announcement.

“When the Pac-12 made the announcement they intended to postpone the season, a lot of people expected it. Now, that said, there’s a report out there from Wednesday that the Governor of California and the Governor of Oregon have given the OK for the Pac-12 schools in their states to play college football. So everything in that conference seems to be heading in the right direction. They were the ones who broke the news last week that they had this lightning-fast COVID-19 test that they could get the results on the same day.”

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USC spearheading a return for the Pac-12?

*Updated story (09/24/2020)*

On Wednesday’s NFL Draft Insiders live show, PFN Insider Tony Pauline shared a further update that he’d received from his sources.

“I was told today that USC coaches told players that they expect the Fall season in the Pac-12 to kick off either October 31st or a week later on November 7th. I spoke to someone else who’s well entwined in the Pac-12 and they said that’s the word. So right now, it looks like the Pac-12 is going to kick off a week or two after the Big Ten kicks off.”

When asked by co-host Andy Herman if there are any remaining hurdles that need to be overcome, he pointed to state guidelines.

“I was told that the Oregon team had a Zoom call with the parents of the players just to go over health protocol and what to expect, although on that Zoom call there were no definitive dates given as to when the kick-off would be. I’m also told that one of the holdups right now is that some of the states out west have restrictions on how many people can be gathered in one area in one time and those restrictions, especially in California, have to be lifted so that they can get the whole team on the field to practice at once. With that being the case, everything looks much more positive than when you and I sat two weeks ago when we were doing our podcast”.

When pressed on whether it’s a foregone conclusion that Pac-12 football will be returning, Tony clarified “I don’t know if it’s foregone but I would say that if we’re grading on a scale of 100%, it’s at 95% that we’ll see the Pac-12 season kickoff by the first weekend in November.”

Continue for our original story on the return of the Pac-12.