Pac-12 finalizing 10-game conference-only schedule for 2020 college football season with delayed start

The Pac-12 is putting its own twist on the “plus one” football scheduling model under consideration by the SEC, ACC and Big 12. The league has already canceled nonconference games and is currently finalizing plans to adopt a 10-game conference-only schedule by the end of next week, multiple league sources tell CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News first reported the Pac-12’s plans.

Pac-12 teams typically play a nine-game conference slate. The 10-game model would call for teams to play the five teams in their division and five of the six teams from the opposite division in a season that would begin Sept. 19, three weeks after the planned Week 1, sources tells Dodd.

The proposal gives the league up to 14 weeks to complete 10 games and a conference title game that could be played any of the first three weekends in December, depending how the season progresses. According to Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the extra game would be cross-divisional and each team will be give a 5/5 split within the division.

The plan needs to be approved by university presidents before going into effect, and it comes as states within the conference’s geographic footprint deal with increasing COVID-19 numbers. California reported its highest daily increase of cases on Tuesday as it passed New York as the state with the most cases since the pandemic began.

High school football in California will not start until December, at the earliest, and the state’s junior college sanctioning organization — the California Community College Athletic Association — is moving football to the spring. Even Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott tested positive for COVID-19.

The announcement of Scott’s positive test came just hours after the league initially announced its decision on July 10 to play only conference games this fall. In that announcement, Scott said the safety of student-athletes and those connected to the league “continues to be our number one priority.”

“Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities,” Scott added.

These developments suggest the league remains intent on staging a fall football season. It further suggests that the Power Five conferences are likely on the same page about playing shortened, flexible schedules. Of course, all of this depends on COVID-19 getting more under control over the next couple of months.

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