BY Art Thiel 05:20PM 07/31/2020

Pac-12 football slate opens Sept. 26 — if then

On Sept. 26, Washington is set to host Stanford and Washington State will host Utah as Pac-12 attempts a schedule designed to play keep-away from the coronavirus.

If the season starts at all, Husky Stadium will see a game against Stanford Sept. 26. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

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.











  • Chris Alexander

    I completely get why they WANT to have a season and why they’re preparing as if they WILL have a season but I’m still HIGHLY SKEPTICAL that they actually WILL have a season.

    • art thiel

      As am I. Making players come back in the fall to a campus deemed unsafe for most students by public health officials would a new benchmark for callousness in college sports.

  • jafabian

    I’m thinking only a stay at home order will prevent the PAC-12 from opening but I am doubtful the season will run its course. Scott seems determined to make this season happen. Too bad games cancelled like UW against Michigan can’t be replaced with a closer opponent like San Diego State or Boise State. Probably just as well when this season might just be balled up and tossed in the trash.

    • art thiel

      Most schools don’t want non-con games because the safety standards vary widely among conferences. So replacing Michigan and the other two games was never an option.

  • AaronBregel

    If it is deemed unsafe for students to be in the stands as fans I find it very hard to be supportive of students being on the field competing.

    Ignoring that and looking at the schedule and assuming the pandemic does not get worse again and then a second wave does not happen the only true chance to see the Huskies live and in person this season might be at Utah. The USL soccer team there has already played matches in front of a number of limited fans. Washington, Oregon, California, and Oregon all seem like states where we will not be able to get to a safe place.

    • art thiel

      The Pac-12 holds out hope of limited live attendance in spots. But you may have to figure in personal attendance based on civil unrest around the election.

  • Archangelo Spumoni

    Mr. Art:
    Any thoughts on the Pac-12 players’ recent demands?