The Pac-12 Conference produced Friday its best shot at a 2020 football schedule, virtually daring the coronavirus to do its worst. So far in the U.S., it has done that very well.
Unless some drastic changes occur in federal leadership and public behavior, it won’t be played. But, like a miracle, maybe COVID-19 will disappear.
Until then, the conference’s CEO group released a 10-game conference schedule (non-conference games were canceled a few weeks ago) that begins Sept. 26 and ends Dec. 5, featuring a bye for each team and an empty week of Dec. 12 if outbreaks are isolated to single places or single teams that force a few postponements. All games are expected, at least at the start, to be void of fans.
The original nine-game conference schedule was erased, and a 10th game, a cross-division contest, was added. Washington opens hosting Stanford, and Washington State hosts Utah. Each team skips one opponent, UW missing Arizona State and WSU missing Arizona. No game times were announced.
The Apple Cup will be in its usual place, the Friday after Thanksgiving, this year in Pullman Nov. 27.
The conference title game, originally booked for the new NFL stadium in Las Vegas, will be either Dec. 12 or 19, hosted by the division winner with the best record. The two-year deal with Las Vegas will begin in 2021.
“We’ve got two opportunities for each team to potentially reschedule, or delay the start,” Commissioner Larry Scott said in a Zoom conference with reporters. “We realize there are some markets that don’t have the requisite state approval to start (practice) on time.”
Scott was asked whether the season will happen.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think we are all trying to take a step at a time. We are cautiously optimistic as we sit here today.”
Since the Pac-12 covers six states with varying degrees of restrictions based on infection rates, the chances for competitive advantage exist. Teams will be allowed Monday to begin 20 hours a week of mandatory team activities, which include strength and conditioning, meetings, and non-contact walk-throughs. Full practices can start as early as Aug. 17.
2020 WASHINGTON SCHEDULE
2020 WASHINGTON STATE SCHEDULE