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.”
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.”
Oregon State coaches telling players that they will be playing?
Probably the biggest news that Pauline dropped was regarding what he had heard from a source about one program telling their players to be ready to play.
“I was told this week that the Oregon State coaches told their players, ‘You will be playing football in the fall.’ So, obviously, there’s a lot behind the scenes that hasn’t been made public but some of the coaches – in this case, the Oregon State coaches – told their players ‘We will be playing football this fall.’ When in the fall? I don’t know. But on the heels of that, comes tonight [Thursday] that the Governors of Oregon and California have told their respective universities in the Pac-12, ‘It’s OK by us if you play football.'”
Would Pac-12 teams be eligible for the college football playoffs?
When asked by co-host Andy Herman whether Pac-12 teams are likely to follow the example of the Big Ten and start the season with the required time and structure to be eligible for the college football playoffs, Pauline seemed optimistic.
“I think a lot of people thought that the Big Ten would have started a week earlier than they actually did. People were talking about October 17th; they pushed it back to October 24th. So I can absolutely see the Pac-12 starting October 24th as well, getting an eight or nine-game season in, getting a conference title game in to maybe see if they get a team in the college football playoffs.”
NFL Draft Insiders Segment
You can listen to the segment on the NFL Draft Insiders Podcast. The full conversation begins around the 12:25 mark.
Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast
Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Scouting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Scouting Podcast on our Scouting YouTube channel.