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How Pac-12 Football Can Be Played In Spring, Fall In Same Calendar Year

A general stadium view of Rice-Eccles Stadium at the start of the game between the Utah Utes and the Oregon State Beavers on October 31, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – College football fans around the country, particularly on the west coast, will not have a season this fall. Some conferences, like the Pac-12, are looking into playing a Spring season.

The University of Utah is in the Pac-12 and will follow suit with the cancellation of the season by the conference.

Details have not been released on when or if a season will be played in the Spring. A point against playing a Spring season is that putting student-athletes through two seasons in one calendar year would be grueling.

According to Urban Meyer, it’s “not possible” to have a season in the spring. Now, athletic directors are tasked with trying to salvage money that will be lost from not playing this fall.

The Crimson Corner came up with an idea of how both spring and fall seasons can be played in the same calendar year. Listen to the episode, below.

Believe it or not, there is a way two seasons can be played in one calendar year, not everyone will agree, but not everyone agrees on much.

Possible Obstacles

Let’s get the possible obstacles out the way. Where will the United States be with the battle against COVID-19 by the time February or March rolls around? Will there be a vaccine? Will it be readily available? If not, will rapid results testing be available?

That was one thing Pac-12 officials mentioned about their decision to postpone fall sports, not having the ability to get quick COVID-19 test results. Testing players three days before games won’t get it done in college sports. Especially if they are not playing in a bubble. College students love to socialize. You can’t expect students to be hunkered down in their dorm or apartment during the season.

Getting test results back within 24 hours would be a huge step towards a college football season being played. It gives teams the ability to test their players right away after games, mid-week and one or two days before the game.

Spring Training Camp Plan

In order to give each team in the conference a chance to prepare for the season properly, give them just over five weeks for training camp. Also, allow teams to have players come in two weeks before camp starts to begin voluntary workouts. Training camp would start Monday, January 25 and end on Saturday, March 6. That would give the teams 7 days to prepare for the first game after training camp.

When talks started in July of having a shortened off-season and not having a spring training camp Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said that a six-week training camp is preferred in order to be prepared for the season. Even though training camp would technically be just over five weeks, the amount of time from the end of training camp to before the start of the regular season would be over six weeks of prep time.

Spring Schedule Structure

Start the regular season on March 13. Pac-12 teams should play a six-game conference-only schedule. Each team will play the five teams in their division and have one game against the opposite division. No bye weeks for six weeks, but the regular season isn’t over because if a team has a COVID-19 outbreak during the season, they put the game that was postponed into the flex period.

The flex period will begin Saturday, April 24 and will last three weeks or potentially longer depending on how many games a team had to postpone during the regular season period. The last week in the flex period will be Saturday, May 8. After all of the teams have completed the six-game schedule, the top two teams in the Pac-12 will square off for the conference championship. This game can be flexible because it won’t be played in the Las Vegas Raiders’ fancy new Allegiant Stadium in the spring. The team with the best record will host the Pac-12 title game. Ideally, on Saturday, May 15.

If the “Bowl Series” with the Big Ten would happen (again just hypothetically), then you try to play that game as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more time you take from getting players rested and prepared for the fall season. Ideally, Saturday, May 29 would be a great time to play those games. That way the season is over before June.

Spring Postseason

As it stands now, the College Football Playoff will still be in the fall, which means the Pac-12 or Big Ten will not have a representative for college football’s ultimate prize but, in this case, it is what it is. You can still make the most of it.

The Pac-12 and Big Ten both have ties to the Rose Bowl. But since the Rose Bowl is one of the College Football Playoff games in 2020-21, there is not a bowl tie-in. The best non-CFP team would have received an invite to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

Since neither conference will be playing in the fall, the two commissioners should contact the current New Year’s Six Bowl Directors and see if one of them wants to be the “Championship game” in the spring which will host the Big Ten Champion against the Pac-12 Champion.

If that doesn’t work, then start your own game. Find a neutral site that will host the game and play each other. Now, the next question is what about the teams that become bowl eligible? Since we don’t know the status of the bowl games in the fall, let’s assume that they will not be moving to the spring. Turn the postseason into a “Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Bowl Series.”

You match up the best team from both conferences. Then the No. 2 teams in each conference square off. For example, let’s take last year’s results and pair them up.

  • No. 1 Oregon (12-2) vs. No. 1 Ohio State (13-1)
  • No. 2 Utah (11-3) vs. No. 2 Penn State (11-2)
  • No. 3 USC (8-5) vs. No. 3 Minnesota (11-2)
  • No. 4 Cal (8-5) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (10-4)

So and and so forth.

Now, the Big Ten has 14 teams and the Pac-12 has 12 teams. You allow the teams who become “bowl eligible” by winning a certain amount of games to participate in this bowl series. If the Big Ten has 7 teams (just for example) that win the minimum amount of games but the Pac-12 only has six teams, then the Pac-12 will take the team with the next best record and match them up with the seventh Big Ten team.

Normally, you would have teams with six wins but in this case, that might be difficult depending on how many games each conference plays in the spring.

If the Big Ten and the Pac-12 don’t agree to do something like this in the spring (which I think would be fun to watch), then, unfortunately, there will not be a postseason.

Fall Training Camp Plan

The hope (keyword) is that the COVID-19 concerns will not exist by the time fall hits in 2021. But, hopefully (again, keyword) the Pac-12 was able to have a successful season in the spring as listed above. The problem is, you can’t ask student-athletes to play a 6, 7 or even 8 game schedule in the spring and ask them to turn around just a few months later and play a 12-game regular-season slate in the fall.

So, give the players a few months off from the spring season and delay the start of the fall by a few weeks. Normally, fall camp will begin around the first of August. For the fall season in 2021, start training camp on Monday, August 9 and end on Saturday, September 18.

Fall Schedule Structure

Start the season on Saturday, September 25. Play a 9-game conference-only schedule. The Pac-12 can make the scheduling easy by playing the 9-games that were originally on the schedule before switching to conference-only in 2020. For Utah, that would mean every Pac-12 team except Oregon and Stanford.

Play the schedule over 10 weeks so that each team receives one bye week. Play the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas on Friday, December 3.

Fall Postseason

Play the Bowl games in December and January as usual. The only thing that will need to be adjusted is the number of wins you will need to become bowl eligible. The Pac-12 won’t have a lot of teams winning six of their nine regular-season games. Maybe reduce the requirement to five wins?

The max amount of games for a Pac-12 team to play in one calendar year through two seasons is 19. The minimum is 15. Players will have a four-month break in-between seasons.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.