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Pac-12 Notes

September 12th

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Report: Big Ten to vote Sunday on returning to play

From ESPN … The Big Ten’s council of presidents and chancellors will meet Sunday to review the latest medical information and possibly vote again on when the fall football season can begin, sources told ESPN.

The medical subcommittee of the Big Ten’s return to competition task force met Saturday with a smaller group of eight presidents and chancellors, who pushed the process forward for a possible revote as early as Sunday.

The Big Ten on Aug. 11 postponed its fall sports season, including football, because of concerns around the coronavirus pandemic.

The initial vote was 11-3 to postpone, with only Nebraska, Ohio State and Iowa electing to push forward with fall sports. Six presidents must change their Aug. 11 vote to exceed the 60% threshold required by Big Ten bylaws.

The medical subcommittee, co-chaired by Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour and Ohio State lead team physician Dr. Jim Borchers, will present the presidents with at least four rapid response antigen tests that could allow Big Ten teams to test daily for the coronavirus and significantly decrease the amount of necessary contact tracing. The latest information about myocarditis and its occurrence in athletes who test positive for COVID-19 also is expected to be shared, sources said.

“It’s light-years different than it was five weeks ago,” a conference source told ESPN on Friday.

The medical subcommittee includes four Big Ten athletic directors — Michigan’s Warde Manuel, Michigan State’s Bill Beekman, Minnesota’s Mark Coyle and Maryland’s Damon Evans — as well as team doctors and other medical experts from Illinois, Purdue, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, Indiana and Maryland.

The committee met Saturday afternoon with presidents or chancellors from Northwestern, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Rutgers, Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan State.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and the league have received significant backlash since the initial decision to postpone, as coaches, players, parents of players and politicians all have weighed in. President Donald Trump spoke with Warren last week about testing and other areas to get Big Ten football started as soon as possible. But any reversal of the initial vote would be based on updated medical information, sources said. The Big Ten fall season was set to kick off Sept. 3 before the postponement.

If the presidents vote to start the fall football season, the earliest for kickoff is mid to late October. A key factor is how quickly the conference determines a testing agreement and when supplies can be in place. Sources said it’s also possible not all Big Ten schools choose to play a fall season.

“Someone’s got to be strong and make a decision,” a Big Ten source said. “Put a nail in it, put a pin in this thing and let’s go.”

A Pac-12 source told ESPN on Friday that the league is in communication with the Big Ten, but the Pac-12’s timeline remains dependent on several factors, including governmental approval to return to campus in California and Oregon.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has said he has spoken to Warren with the hopes they could align their return, but conceded it “may or may not work out.”

The Pac-12 also postponed its fall sports season Aug. 11.

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September 11th

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Washington State cuts 10 full-time jobs; furloughs set

From ESPN … Washington State’s athletic department will cut 10 full-time jobs and top coaches will take a voluntary 15% pay cut to help deal with budget problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Athletic director Pat Chun, football coach Nick Rolovich and men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith are taking the 15% pay cuts, the school said Friday. Women’s basketball coach Kamie Ethridge will take a 12.5% salary reduction.

Every other head coach, assistant coach and contracted staff member has been asked, or mandated, to take a 10% salary reduction, the Pac-12 school said.

In addition, all non-contracted staff members are required to take two furlough weeks by Nov. 20, and two more weeks between Feb. 1-June 1, 2021.

Chun said the goal is to cut into a $30 million loss in athletic department revenue this fall because of the pandemic. Washington State was already facing financial woes nefore COVID-19. The athletic department has a debt of about $100 million from the construction of a football operations building, stadium upgrades and other spending in the past decade.

 

 

Washington athletics eliminates 16 positions ($8 million in cuts)

From The Seattle Times … In a presentation to the University of Washington’s board of regents on Thursday, athletics director Jen Cohen and chief financial officer Kate Cullen outlined plans to shrink department salaries by 17% — or $8 million — in the 2021 fiscal year. Those cuts are coming, according to an accompanying budget document, via “voluntary contract reductions, department-wide furloughs and other staffing cuts.”

On Thursday, those staffing cuts continued.

In a second round of cost-saving measures to combat the economic effects of COVID-19, UW Athletics has eliminated 16 positions — some of which were filled, and others vacant — and instituted temporary furloughs or FTE (full-time equivalent hours) reductions for an additional 35 staff members, according to a university release.

A UW spokesperson declined to share which specific positions were eliminated.

“Today is an extremely difficult day,” Cohen said in a statement. “We have remained committed to maintaining all 22 of our programs and to providing a world-class education and athletic experience for our students. In order to fulfill this commitment we are having to make some challenging personnel decisions that impact long-standing and dedicated members of our department.  The current pandemic continues to have a major impact on our entire country and we are not immune.

“Our generous donors and fans share a passion for all of our programs on Montlake and we can’t thank them enough for how they have already stepped up to support our mission to provide holistic development opportunities for students. We recognize we have a long road ahead but are confident that this community will rally around our beloved student-athletes and programs, and their support will have a lasting impact for years to come.”

On Aug. 11, the Pac-12 Conference announced the postponement of all sports competitions through the end of the year. Cohen wrote in a letter to UW fans that the department could suffer as much as $70 million in losses if Husky sports continue to be canceled.

USC’s Clay Helton: “It hurts your soul” to watch other Power Five conferences playing

From 247 Sports … This weekend, while the Big Ten and Pac 12 sit at home, the ACC and Big 12 will kickoff their 2020 college football seasons. The SEC will begin its season in two weekends.

It is especially hard for football junkie and USC head coach Clay Helton to sit at home while other conferences are playing college football.

Appearing on Fox Sports last night, Helton said that while he plans on watching the other conferences this weekend, it doesn’t come without pain knowing that his team can’t yet suit up.

“It does, it hurts your soul,” Helton said. “The two guys I’m on with right now (Kedon Slovis and Amon-Ra St. Brown), the expectations for the seasons they were getting ready to have, I think you’ve got a Heisman Trophy candidate in Kedon Slovis. I think you’ve got a Biletnikoff candidate in Amon-Ra St. Brown. When you see that as a coach, you’re just so excited and hoping and praying that everything is going to work out and maybe the conditions get better. Patience is going to be a virtue here. At some point in time, you’re going to see these guys. I can’t wait for the light to roll on.”

… While the Pac-12 may not be playing this fall, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is hopeful for a Spring season given the recent development of rapid COVID-19 testing becoming available for all Pac-12 schools by the end of this month.

Scott called the development a “game-changer” in regards to playing football again sometime soon. Last Friday, Scott made an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show and revealed when he believes the Pac-12 will be able to play football again.

“Well right now, I’ve got a high degree of confidence that we’re going to be playing (football) in January,” Scott said. “It possible because of this announcement we could play sooner. I think the significance of yesterday’s announcement, having access to this testing, I can look you in the eye virtually and tell you I’ve got a high degree of confidence we’re playing. We’re going to have a full, exciting season for our student-athletes. Well, I shouldn’t say full as in playing 12 games, I think it will be abbreviated like it is in other conferences.”

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September 10th

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Oregon loses three starters (to NFL); USC loses best offensive lineman

Related … “Oregon’s CB Deommodore Lenoir declaring for NFL draft” … From ESPN

Related … “Oregon’s Penei Sewell, ESPN’s No. 2-rated NFL draft prospect, opts out of season” … From ESPN

From ESPN … Oregon cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. is declaring for the 2021 NFL draft, becoming the third Ducks standout to do so this week.

Graham, who announced his decision Thursday morning on Twitter, follows fellow cornerback Deommodore Lenoir and offensive tackle Penei Sewell in opting out of a potential college season.

“I was excited to return to the University of Oregon for my senior season,” Graham tweeted. “My plan was to leave it all out on the field with my brothers one last time and bring home the National Championship. I was excited to finish what we started — but due to the cancellation of this season, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and declare for the 2021 NFL draft.”

Graham was set to enter the 2020 season as the FBS active leader in passes defended (40) and pass breakups (32). He earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019 and recorded eight interceptions and 182 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss, in three seasons at Oregon. The 5-foot-11, 193-pound Graham started his final 39 games with the Ducks.

USC OL Alijah Vera-Tucker opts out, announces NFL Draft entry

From 247 Sports … More fallout from the Pac-12’s decision to cancel the 2020 fall football season occurred Wednesday. USC offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker announced his decision via Twitter to opt out of the 2020-2021 college football season and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. The redshirt junior becomes the second Trojan to do so.

“My decision to attend college and play football at USC is one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Vera-Tucker said in a written statement. “I am extremely blessed and thankful for the opportunity I have to be part of a football team and earn an education that many dream about, but few get to experience. The relationships I’ve made with the Trojan Family, especially the unbreakable bonds with the coaches, support staff and my teammates are ones that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It has been an honor to wear the Trojan uniform and represent this great University.”

Vera-Tucker’s departure is a massive loss for the Trojans. The redshirt junior was the linchpin of USC’s offensive line as the most experienced and versatile player on the depth chart. Per Pro Football Focus, Vera-Tucker was evaluated as USC’s best offensive lineman in 2019 with a 78.1 grade. He graded out as the best run-blocking guard in the Pac-12 and allowed QB pressures on just 1.2% of plays, good for second-best in the conference. He was set to take over to the left tackle position this fall for the departed starter in Austin Jackson. Now, the Trojans will have to reevaluate their roster to determine the next best starting five.

Vera-Tucker started all 13 games for USC in 2019 at the left guard position. He made the AP All-Pac-12 first team, Pro Football Focus All-American third team, and Phil Steele All-Pac-12 third team.

Attorney General for Ohio: OSU can sue Big Ten for cancellation of season

From The Columbus Post-Dispatch … Ohio State University is mum on the matter, but Attorney General Dave Yost believes OSU officials have grounds for a lawsuit seeking damages from the Big Ten and schools that voted against playing football this fall.

A team of state lawyers studying Ohio State’s contracts with the Big Ten believe an “excellent contract claim for several tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue” can be demanded in a lawsuit, Yost told The Dispatch.

Yost, a Republican, said he has not yet discussed the filing of a state-court action against the Big Ten and some of its schools with Ohio State officials as conference talks continue on when — and if — to play football amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we have a cause of action” for violating contracts between the Big Ten and Ohio State and for illegal interference in a business relationship, Yost said on Wednesday.

“If these negotiations (over playing football) fall apart, we will be recommending legal action to our client, Ohio State University,” he said, adding his office believes the Big Ten lacked legal authority to cancel or delay the football season.

In a tweet on Thursday morning, Yost wrote, “Some interesting conversations this morning. If we end up going to court on @bigten football, we may have some company.”

Big Ten presidents and chancellors voted 11-3 to not immediately play football due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska voting in favor of playing.

Yost, an Ohio State journalism graduate, said he has directed his lawyers to “put together a case, so if negotiations break down and the season is canceled, we are prepared to make a presentation to the board (of trustees) and the administration.”

Ohio State University administration officials did not respond to requests for comment. Asked for his comment on Yost’s statements, OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith provided a one-word response: “Nothing.”

A Big Ten decision to begin playing football later would cancel talk of a lawsuit, Yost said, although he expressed doubts about the conference’s legal ability to cancel non-conference games.

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September 9th

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Nebraska President: “The fight is still on … we are ready to play”

From 247 Sports … The Big Ten continues to make the rounds in the news cycle as the fight to bring back the fall football season continues. The league canceled the fall football season with hopes of playing in the winter or spring.

One Big Ten school that is set on playing sooner is Nebraska. School president Ted Carter on Wednesday offered some thoughts about returning to play amid rumors of the season supposedly coming back on October 10th, though the more publicly discussed possibilities have circled around starting closer to Thanksgiving or January.

He joined News Talk 1400 AM to discuss previous disinformation and gave an update on any possible vote.

“I made a comment about how much disinformation is out there,” Carter said. “But here’s what I will say. There is an awful lot of work still going on with the return to play committee for which chancellor Ronnie Green, Athletic Director Bill Moos and coach Scott Frost are on. They’re putting together some plans that the presidents and chancellors will vote on very soon. The fight is still on. We have been aligned here in this state from the get go….we feel it’s safe to play here. That’s our theme here and we’re still strong on that.

“I follow Twitter like everyone else. There are some people that just want to put out disinformation and then there are some professionals on campuses like the Penn State doctor that put out information that had to pull all of that back. Everyone should take information with a strong dose of caution. Listen to the people that are in the senior administrative positions. We are very open and transparent.

“Every email I’ve typed out in the last year has been shared with the media. Even when President Trump called Kevin Warren, somebody thought that I might have directed that at the White House. So I had those emails pulled and I can confirm that that did not happen. We’re going to be honest and straightforward. We continue to say we are ready to play and can play.”

Continue reading story here

USC back to practices after 11-day shutdown

From 247 Sports … USC’s football and men’s water polo teams have been cleared to resume workouts, the university’s athletic department announced Tuesday. The decision comes after three rounds of COVID-19 tests over an 11-day period returned zero positive results. The two teams have not practiced since Aug. 26.

USC initially paused workouts at the end of August after its weekly round of COVID-19 tests revealed that eight student-athletes tested positive. It was an alarming result considering that the athletic department had doubled its total number of positives in one week since it began testing in June. Last Monday, an additional round of testing revealed one more positive case, keeping workouts for football and men’s water polo still on pause until at least Sept. 8.

“We have effective mitigation strategies in place, but out of an abundance of caution we are pausing athletics activities in football and men’s water polo while we await additional test results and USC completes the contact tracing process,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn said at the time.

USC’s contract tracing efforts revealed that the outbreak among its student-athlete population was not due to on-campus workouts. One USC source attributed the athletic department’s test results to the student body population that moved into off-campus housing at the start of the semester. Two weeks ago, USC sent an advisory to its students warning that COVID-19 was on the rise in the community. Though the university is functioning through remote learning, it announced that 43 cases of coronavirus have been identified and 100 students were put into a 14-day quarantine. The higher likelihood of community spread increases the difficulty of protecting student-athletes who are not operating in a “bubble” set up.

Continue reading story here

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September 8th

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Larry Scott Interview: “We made an excellent decision at the time to postpone”

From 247 Sports … There are many obstacles in the way of starting a football season in the Pac-12, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott spoke to 247Sports national college football writer Brandon Marcello on Friday about the future of the conference amid the pandemic, the conference’s relationship with the Big Ten and, of course, the Rose Bowl.

Note: The conversation was edited for brevity and clarity

Brandon Marcello: Do you have any regrets not waiting longer to make a decision on whether to conduct a fall football season?

Larry Scott: Well, look, we could always benefit by having a crystal ball. I’ve never had one, so I don’t really know how that would work. All you could do is make the best decisions you can with the information that you have at the time. And then afterward when you look back whether history judges it as the right decision or the wrong decision, but I don’t believe you can make a right decision or a wrong decision in the moment because facts change and factors change afterwards So having said that, I feel highly confident we made an excellent decision at the time to postpone, based on the information we had, which involve not having government approval to start, contact practice and training camp. Not having access to the kind of rapid result point of care testing, we feel that we needed to have and combine that with the risk factors around heart and otherwise. The Pac-12 made the decision based on its values and feeling a duty of care to student athletes and their families. And we’re not comfortable looking people in the eye and saying we feel comfortable with the risk and the uncertainties.

Continue reading interview here

Rick Neuheisel: Pac-12 needs to be “really aggressive” in showing its commitment to football

From the Daily Camera … Rick Neuheisel understands why the Pac-12 made the decision to postpone its football season last month.

The former head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, UCLA Bruins and Washington Huskies also knows the conference could get further left behind this fall if others play and the Pac-12 doesn’t.

Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 led to the Pac-12 postponing its fall sports season on Aug. 11, joining the Big Ten, Mountain West and MAC.

“No one can fault a league for making a decision based on health, safety and wellness,” Neuheisel, a CBS Sports college football analyst, told BuffZone. “The Pac-12 delivered a 12-page document stating the reasons for their decision, and they stood by it, they stood united … it’s completely and totally understandable.”

The lack of rapid, daily testing was a big reason for the postponement. Last week, however, the Pac-12 announced a partnership with Quidel Corporation to provide daily testing with results available in 15 minutes. The tests will be available to Pac-12 teams by the end of the month.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has publicly expressed optimism about the conference playing football by Jan. 1, if not sooner, because of the tests.

“If that helps them advance and play football prior to Jan. 1, I’m all for it, because I think we need to be playing football,” Neuheisel said.

Six Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, including the ACC, Big 12 and SEC, are moving forward with a fall season. While several of those campuses have seen a spike in COVID-19 positive tests, none of the outbreaks have been traced to football practices.

“No one can prove to me that these kids are safer away from the environments that they’ve proven that they can flourish in,” Neuheisel said. “And I just think the Pac-12 needs to be really aggressive about making a statement about how much they love football, and how much they want to build their brand of football, as it pertains to the national scene.”

Continue reading story here

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September 7th

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Oregon loses star (top five draft pick) offensive lineman, Penei Sewell, to NFL Draft

From the CBS Sports … Oregon star offensive lineman Penei Sewell announced Monday that he will opt out of the Ducks’ upcoming season to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. Sewell is considered a lock to be selected in the first round of the draft, and his departure will be a blow to an offense replacing its quarterback and four other offensive line starters.

“There are no words to adequately express how blessed I feel for having played football for the past two seasons at the best school in the country, the University of Oregon,” Sewell wrote. “The love and support I’ve received has been overwhelming, and I could not be more grateful. But ever since I was little, I have dreamt of playing professional football. Accordingly, after long thought, prayer and many conversations with my family, I have decided to opt out of the 2020-21 college football season and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.”

Sewell was one of only three unanimous first-team 2019 CBS Sports All-Americans after his sophomore season as he helped lead the Ducks to a 12-2 record and Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. Sewell allowed just one sack in two seasons as a starter at Oregon. He earned the Outland Trophy for his efforts last season as the best lineman in the country.

The Utah native was considered a four-star prospect in the class of 2018 and became the first Oregon true freshman to start his first game on the offensive line since 1997. His younger brother, Noah Sewell, is set to be a freshman linebacker for the Ducks this season.

Continue reading story here

Next challenge for Pac-12: Solving California local restrictions issues

From the San Jose Mercury News … Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s optimism for the return of Pac-12 football hasn’t faded in the 48 hours since announcing the partnership with Quidel on rapid-result Covid tests.

“I’m now highly confident we’re going to be able to start in January, at the latest,” Scott told ESPN’s GameDay on Saturday morning.

“Whether we could start late-November, early-December, we’ll have to figure out. It’s got something to do with our public health authorities in California and Oregon saying it’s okay and blessing it.”

The conference cleared one hurdle:

The Quidel tests, conducted the day-of-competition and expected to be available in late September, will prevent asymptomatic players from taking the field.

But the Pac-12 still faces daunting local restrictions.

Even if Quidel’s point-of-care tests were available tomorrow, the California and Oregon schools would need to satisfy the demands … err, requirements … of their state and local health authorities.

And that’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in skull-crushing bureaucracy, especially in California.

We’re quite confident Oregon and Oregon State would be approved to compete if the California teams receive clearance. A spokesperson for Gov. Kate Brown said as much in the spring:

“We will make sure (the Ducks and Beavers) are not at any competitive disadvantage due to the current situation.”

The $1 billion question for the Pac-12, it seems, is this:

Why are California’s pro teams allowed to compete while the college teams cannot?

The situation is doubly perplexing given that Stanford, USC and UCLA are in the same counties as the NFL teams.

The Rams play next week at SoFi Stadium, which is a whopping 6.9 miles from the L.A. Coliseum, where the Trojans aren’t allowed to gather in groups larger than 12. The teams might as well be 6.9 light years apart.

The situation in the Bay Area is no less confusing.

The 49ers open at home next week in Levi’s Stadium, but 15 minutes up the freeway, Stanford lacks the clearance to have more than two players touch the ball on any given play (i.e., no center-quarterback exchange before a pass).

Continue reading story here

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September 6th

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Chase Garbers to Larry Scott’s promises: “You better not be messing with me Larry”

From 247 Sports.com … Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s confidence in the Pac-12 playing college football by January was a noteworthy statement considering the conference did not backtrack like Big Ten or even commit to playing winter sports at any point in 2020. However, with the announcement of the Pac-12’s partnership for COVID-19 testing that will provide additional resources for on-campus testing by the end of the month, sports look a lot more possible sooner rather than later.

Giving athletes, coaches and fans any degree of hope of playing soon has its domino effects and brings extra pressure to the Pac-12 to deliver. In fact, one Pac-12 quarterback sent a direct message to Scott.

California Bears quarterback Chase Garbers took to Twitter to respond to Scott’s confidence comments from the Dan Patrick Show.

“Well right now, I’ve got a high degree of confidence that we’re going to be playing (football) in January,” Scott said. “It is possible because of this announcement we could play sooner. I think the significance of yesterday’s announcement, having access to this testing, I can look you in the eye virtually and tell you I’ve got a high degree of confidence we’re playing. We’re going to have a full, exciting season for our student-athletes. Well, I shouldn’t say full as in playing 12 games, I think it will be abbreviated like it is in other conferences.”

Garbers immediately said what everyone was thinking.

“You better not be messing with me Larry,” Garbers tweeted in response.

Continue reading story here

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September 5th

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Larry Scott: Joint return with Big Ten “preferred but not necessary”

From 247 Sports … As college football makes its triumphant return, the Pac-12 and Big Ten are reportedly discussing options regarding on-field play.

Both conferences decided to postpone the fall season amid COVID-19 concerns. The Big Ten has received backlash for their decision. The Pac-12 has received its fair share of backlash as well, but commissioner Larry Scott has explored a possible November return.

Scott joined ESPN’s College GameDay to discuss the recent developments. He also shed light on the chance that the Pac-12 could return alongside the Big Ten later this year.

“It’s preferred but not necessary,” Scott said. “This is a year in which everyone is just figuring out how to proceed safely and get in as much of a season that we feel we can. Every conference is going about it differently. We’ve all postponed. We’ve all got reduced seasons. How we’re doing is all bit different … If we can align with the Big Ten, it would open the possibility of some exciting postseason opportunities.”

Rumors have circulated that the Big Ten could potentially return as early as October. Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren has maintained that the conference will do everything possible to ensure the safety of their student-athletes.

Warren said the decision was due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic as more information continues to come out.

“We always have a plan,” Warren said. “We wanted to plan ahead for a possible season. We felt it was important to organize a schedule and we’d have a schedule in place. But six days is six days. As we began to gather information from our medical experts and infectious diseases, I just said from Day 1 that it’s important on a day to day basis we’d listen and follow and understand the advice from the experts.”

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Big 12 sets minimum requirements for play, including 53-man roster

From CBS Sports … The Big 12 announced Friday that teams will need to have at least 53 players available for football games this season as the conference nears the beginning of a season that will be played amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the conference has established player minimums for certain position groups. Teams will be required to have at least seven available offensive linemen, four available interior defensive linemen and one quarterback. The 53-player minimum and position minimums include walk-on players as part of the totals.

If a team has 53 or more players available but cannot field the required number of players at a certain position, they will still have the option to play, if they desire. However, if the team chooses not to play, the game will be declared a “no contest” and moved to a later date. The league’s game-cancellation protocols are the first to be released by any conference even though the FBS season is already underway.

The first scheduled Big 12 game of the year was supposed to be TCU taking on SMU on Sept. 11. However, that game has been postponed after the Horned Frogs discovered a rise in positive COVID-19 tests.

The league’s other nine teams are scheduled to be in action the following day, Sept. 12, for their season openers against nonconference teams. Conference play is slated to begin Sept. 26. The league built its schedule plan with flexibility as a priority in the event of health-related cancellations. All teams have two bye weeks, and the league has the option to move its championship game back from Dec. 12 to Dec. 19, if needed.

Utah furloughs ENTIRE athletic department (including AD and coaches)

From KUTV.com … The University of Utah will furlough every employee in its athletic department, including Athletic Director Mark Harlan and team coaches because of financial shortfalls in a global pandemic.

Harlan released a statement about the furloughs Friday and said the decision was “difficult — but necessary” to mitigate the financial impact of the loss of games because of COVID-19.

“These changes include furloughs of various lengths for every Department employee—including me, our executive cabinet and our head and assistant coaches. In addition, in some select cases, we have also eliminated positions through reductions in force. We also have eliminated all performance bonuses until further notice,” Harlan said in a statement.

Finances were impacted after spring sports were cancelled for the U of U and then football and other fall sports were cancelled Aug. 11 by the Pac-12 conference. Football is a revenue generator for the university and the athletic conference that paid member schools significant money from television and other revenue streams from games. Football coach Kyle Whittingham is among the highest paid state employees in Utah.

Yahoo finance listed his salary making $3.7 million in 2018.

Harlan’s statement is as follows:

“As I have previously shared, the financial challenges that we are facing at Utah has led us to make difficult—but necessary—decisions to mitigate the financial impacts of the pandemic. These changes include furloughs of various lengths for every Department employee—including me, our executive cabinet and our head and assistant coaches. In addition, in some select cases, we have also eliminated positions through reductions in force. We also have eliminated all performance bonuses until further notice.

“These decisions were not based on employee performance, but rather reflect the significant financial shortfall we face as well as the realities of the postponement of fall sports competition. We are prioritizing the areas of our athletics operations that directly support our student-athletes.”

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September 4th

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Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin says two SEC coaches have told him “no way they could play a game this week”

From 247 Sports … With college football right around the corner, teams are doing all that they can in order to maintain a healthy roster amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And while things appear to be moving in the right direction in regards to playing the season, the challenges of maintaining a healthy roster are getting tougher.

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin joined the Pat McAfee Show on Thursday to discuss a variety of topics about the upcoming football season. While talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, Kiffin mentioned that two SEC schools told him on Thursday morning that if they had to play a game today, they could not actually field a team.

“This isn’t 100 percent,” Kiffin said on the show. “You know, we’ve still got a ways to go to get through this because there are some teams right now in the SEC — you know, I heard from two coaches today, that there’s no way they could play that game this week.

Luckily for SEC schools, there is still plenty of time remaining before the 2020 season officially starts for SEC teams. Because of the pandemic and the impact it had on the sport, the SEC has elected to play a 10-game, conference-only schedule. While some Power Five games are set to be played next week, the SEC won’t be kicking off until September 26.

The SEC is regarded as the top conference in college football and so a conference-only schedule will no doubt be taxing to teams, as no break will be given to those teams in conference play. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey shared those same sentiments recently.

Last Saturday, Sankey joined CBS Sports to discuss what the league’s 10-game schedule will look like. The conference designed it to make sure it could safely play a full season, even if some speed bumps did arise. The two extra conference games will create some extra landmines when it comes to playoff resumes, but fans will enjoy watching the beefed up slates each weekend.

Continue reading story here

Larry Scott: “High degree” of confidence in January start for football

From 247 Sports … On Thursday, the Pac-12 Conference announced a new partnership for COVID-19 testing that will provide additional resources for on-campus testing by the end of the month. According to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, all conference schools will be able to have rapid testing available on campus as soon as the end of September.

During a press webinar, Scott noted that rapid testing could provide results in 15 minutes and are able to be administered in the training rooms of the athletic programs. When the Pac-12 decided to postpone the 2020 season in August, the conference did not expect to have rapid testing available until late November.

With expanded testing becoming available to all Pac-12 schools by the end of the month, Scott called the development a “game-changer” in regards to playing football again sometime soon. On Friday, Scott made an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show and revealed when he believes the Pac-12 will be able to play football again.

“Well right now, I’ve got a high degree of confidence that we’re going to be playing (football) in January,” Scott said. “It possible because of this announcement we could play sooner. I think the significance of yesterday’s announcement, having access to this testing, I can look you in the eye virtually and tell you I’ve got a high degree of confidence we’re playing. We’re going to have a full, exciting season for our student-athletes. Well, I shouldn’t say full as in playing 12 games, I think it will be abbreviated like it is in other conferences.”

While the Pac-12 believes that the rapid testing could bring back sports sooner than the January 1st, 2021 timeline set in August but Scott added that there are still more hurdles to clear.

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NCAA: Conferences playing in the spring can have a 15-practice “fall camp” and an eight-game schedule

… If a conference (Big Ten – cough, cough) decides to play by Thanksgiving, they get no “fall camp” run up … 

From ESPN … The Football Oversight Committee on Thursday agreed to recommend to the Division I Council a spring-season model for conferences that push their seasons to spring of 2021. It includes 15 practices in 29 days and an eight-game season that must end by April 17.

Any other conferences that have postponed their season because of the coronavirus pandemic but decide to resume playing games earlier than next spring will not be able to use the 15-practice model, but it will be recommended all leagues that have postponed will have 13 weeks to complete their seasons.

The committee will also ask the Council to extend the recruiting dead period to Oct. 31 and to eliminate the evaluation period for football in the fall.

The Division I Council is expected to vote on the recommendations at its Sept. 16 meeting.

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, the chair of the FOC, told ESPN that the committee wanted to give any conferences that are not playing the flexibility to determine their schedule, but he said that for any leagues pushing their season back to the spring, it would be an eight-game schedule. Any conferences that start earlier can play more games within their allotted 13 weeks.

If the Big Ten or any other league resumes play in late November, it wouldn’t be allowed to use the proposed practice format of 29 days to have 15 practices, as is the case during a typical spring season. Only teams that push the season to spring of 2021 would be able to make use of that model.

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September 3rd

… Foe Pause … 

Pac-12 announces groundbreaking testing research initiative; Rapid-results test could speed the return of sport competitions

Press release from the Pac-12 … The Pac-12 Conference announced today that it has entered into an agreement with diagnostic test leader Quidel Corporation to implement up to daily testing for COVID-19 with student-athletes across all of its campuses for all close-contact sports.

The agreement is a major step toward the safe return of sports competition in the Pac-12. The arrangement with Quidel will provide for frequent testing with rapid results, which had been one of the key concerns in the prior decision by the Pac-12 to postpone sport competition.  The testing will also significantly reduce the number of contact traces required and the breadth of contact tracing required, with the goal of relieving some of the burden on local health authorities, as a result of removing or significantly limiting the spread of infection through athletics activity.  Any return to competition is subject to requisite approvals from public health officials.

Quidel’s Sofia 2 testing machines and tests are expected to be delivered to each of the Pac-12’s athletic departments by the end of September 2020.  Over the coming weeks, the Pac-12 plans to review this latest testing breakthrough with its sport planning committees and to evaluate the impact on return to competition scenarios.
“This is a major step toward the safe resumption of Pac-12 sport competitions,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “The availability of a reliable test that can be administered daily, with almost immediate results, addresses one of the key concerns that was expressed by our medical advisory committee, as well as by student-athletes, coaches and others. At the same time, our partnership with Quidel, the industry leader in point-of-care antigen testing, will provide crucial research data that will benefit our members’ communities as well as the entire country.”
Douglas Bryant, Quidel’s president and CEO, said: “We are pleased to participate in this innovative arrangement that will help protect Pac-12 student-athletes and allow them to return to play while contributing to further understanding of the COVID-19 virus that will benefit all of society. With its well-established medical research program, the Pac-12 is an ideal partner to help us develop and document the most effective coronavirus testing protocol to serve our families and communities.”
Directly Addresses Concerns
At the time the Pac-12 CEO Group voted to postpone sport competitions, they cited the need for “more frequent testing, performed closer to game time, and with more rapid turn-around time”, particularly in light of the uncertainties regarding the long-term effects of COVID-19. The access to daily testing addresses those concerns, Scott noted.
The Pac-12/Quidel testing program will be key to research efforts coordinated by the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative (SAHWBI) as well as the Conference’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee, which has been advising the Conference on COVID-19 issues. The Pac-12 SAHWBI’s Research Grant Program was established by the Conference and its member universities in 2013 and has studied brain trauma, mental health, cardiovascular health, and other health and wellness issues.
A key focus of the Pac-12 SAHWBI’s independent research initiative will be to document and determine if a testing protocol that involves point-of-care rapid testing immediately prior to practice or competition can decrease or eliminate the risk of infection from sport interaction as has been proposed by some experts.  .
“This is an opportunity to get our athletes back to activity in a careful and controlled manner while monitoring outcomes.   It is win-win for athletics and to better our understanding of strategies to prevent spread during sports,” said Dr. Kimberly Harmon, section head of sports medicine for the University of Washington.
Dr. Doug Aukerman, Oregon State senior associate athletic director of sports medicine and chair of the Pac-12 SAHWBI Board, added: “This will allow us to learn even more about the behavior of the virus, especially in asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals. The implication is that this can inform the broader medical community on asymptomatic cases as well as our care and treatment for student-athletes.”
In addition to significantly decreasing the risk of spreading the infection in student-athletes, coaches and staff members through sport, a daily testing protocol will also reduce the potential burden on local health authorities to carry out widespread contact tracing.
“Pac-12 universities and their medical research centers are performing significant and important research to better understand and combat COVID-19,” added Scott.  “The study to be conducted with Quidel fits into the broader educational and research missions of our universities, and will provide important new data and information that will be beneficial to society more broadly.”

25 Replies to “Pac-12 Notes”

  1. Hold it, wait so this quote was a lie, “will not be revisited”. At least they have balls to admit they screwed up, I guess the PAC12 will follow suit since they follow whatever the BIG10 does.

    Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren on Wednesday released an open letter to the conference community stating that the vote by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors was “overwhelmingly in support of postponing fall sports and will not be revisited.”Aug 19, 2020

  2. BTW, do you know which college athletic departments haven’t furloughed….real people losing there jobs, been there and it doesn’t endear you to your employer.

        1. back at ya, “people” are one thing and you are another. “Endearing” is a 2 way street. Somehow that doesnt seem to be your bag. If the wife messes up dinner are you going to trade her for another wife and team?

          1. No not trading the wife in not trading the Buffs in, well I am but that is because they are not playing at all. The reality is that the schools in California control the PAC12, and therefore control of CU football is now in California.

  3. I can see it now….

    January 15th, 2021

    Big10/PAC12…..hey guys, umm, were ready to play, umm can someone throw us a ball, we want to play now….really

    ACC/SEC/BIG12 Ummmm we already crowned the National Champion, and since you all were 0-fer, you didn’t get an invite.

    not to mention the impact on recruiting…..do you want to play in a conference that actually wants to play…..

    1. I can see 10 inches of fresh powder at A-Basin in January 2021 and me not giving a flying flock about the ACC/SEC/Big 12. I have many other pursuits other than college football. I recommend you get a couple as well, ael. It may improve your mental state and get you out of whining mode.

  4. Interesting how Oregon is losing some of its star players. So far CU has only lost one fan ae_ to Auburn and the SEC. Hope we can keep this up until the Buffs get to play again.

  5. I want to see football as much as anyone but I still have to laugh at the corn pone desperation. Here is a hint to pass the time in truck stop land……watch NASCAR like VK and Alabama.

  6. Hey Stu, the sports betting company that is sponsoring CU Is called PointsBet not SportsBet as stated in your poll. They’re an Australian based company that is setting up their US HQ in Denver.

  7. Frankly its just time for me to stop following CU (my Alma Mater) and start following Auburn (my wife’s Alma Mater). It certainly would be more fun and my overall well being would be much better as they win a lot more games.

    1. I guess the weather is turning fair in Colorado, so that would make sense for your type of CU fandom. Best wishes in SEC fanville. Be sure to head to the Winn Dixie for a case of Billy Beer and some Skoal for the tailgate party down South.

          1. We don’t even know how successful they will be, last we read, two teams said they didn’t have enough players to play last week. They may or may not get past a couple of games before they shut down again and then all this talk will switch again to who did it right. So, switching allegiance before they even play a game?

            And like you said, “You can watch football and not change your allegiance!”.

            In addition to what they post, you can tell by by which articles & when people post to get a good idea of where they stand & some people’s posts show up more often when they can complain rather than compliment.

            Another note: This week’s snow storm & weather across the country looks to be a forecast of this winter with a “La Nina” in play, so the western states are forecast to have a mild winter, while the Northwest thru the Midwest & down into the south, are forecast to have a more severe winter; so we will see how this all plays out.

    2. We understand your frustration…you’ve made that perfectly clear with your repetitive no value whining. I have always thought you were a troll and with this post now I know. bye bye…I hope

    3. ael…dont pay attention to the negative comments directed toward your comment. A lot of CU people feel the way you do including former players (fact). Common sense tells us this whole thing is a crock. Either CU and the PAC 12 will figure it out, or they wont.

  8. “Rick Neuheisel: Pac-12 needs to be “really aggressive” in showing its commitment to football.”

    The problem is that the PAC-12 is not committed to football, at least not like the SEC/ACC/BIG-12.

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