Should Pac-12 Be Eligible For The College Football Playoff?
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – All signs point to this Thursday as the date that the Pac-12 intends to decide whether or not to return to play college football this fall.
The league has reversed course to at the very least look at the landscape of college football within its footprint, or in other words, follow its Big Ten counterparts to return to football.
It took a few public comments such as USC football players writing a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom to let them play to get things started. There was a back and forth between Newsome and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in which the governor made it clear that teams in California, and the Pac-12, are able to go forward with college football.
“I want to make this crystal clear,” Newsom said. “Nothing in the state guidelines denies the ability for the Pac-12 to resume. Quite the contrary. That’s been a misrepresentation of the facts.”
However, there are guidelines on how players can practice and they are far from ideal and ultimately fall to the local level. A California county official laid out those guidelines but they are quite restrictive for football.
The California teams can practice, but they have to do it five-on-five.
Or against air.
Or with VR.
Just not 11 on 11.
Despite those limited interactions, games can be played within the state of California, and for the Pac-12 to go forward with a fall season they need USC, UCLA, Stanford, and Cal for a complete football season.
Clearly this is not ideal to have very limited contact and then play a full-contact game; just look back at BYU vs. Navy in which the Midshipman said they did not practice tackling or blocking during fall camp and lost 55-3.
Playoff Eligible Or Not?
There is still no official word on the Pac-12 returning to play. There is reportedly a meeting on Thursday to vote to play or not and a start date that could be on Nov. 7. However, that kickoff date would put the league three weeks behind the Big Ten which is doing eight games in eight weeks starting on Oct. 24. If the Pac-12 were to finish its season with a Dec. 19 championship game, then the league would be playing only six games.
With so few games, would the Pac-12 be eligible for the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six games?
There is no rule in place for how many games must be played and even in a standard college football year teams play a variety of games, including what is done within the conference. However, six seems a bit of the short end when the Big Ten will play eight, ACC can max out at 11, and the Big 12 has 10 games.
However, with the Rose Bowl being part of the playoff rotation this year, there will be no traditional Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup and perhaps that comes into play from the Pac-12 side of things on not rushing back to play at least eight games.
KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry doesn’t feel the Pac-12 should even be eligible for the College Football Playoff if the league schedules fewer games.
“I don’t think that if a team plays seven or eight games, they should be in the same bracket of being eligible for the college football playoff as teams in the other Power Five conferences who’ve played nine or 10 games,” Kirry said. “Some of these schools haven’t even allowed students on campus at all yet, and then you have to bring guys back from other parts of the country.
“You have to quarantine them then. So that’s why a lot of this is sort of being pushed back because it’s not just the acclimatization that we’re talking about. What we’re talking about quarantining. We’re talking about starting things off. Everything ends up starting even later because you can’t just say, well, we talked about practicing yesterday and we’re practicing today.”
Timing is the big issue as is the ramp-up to the season to make sure players are in shape and ready for football. If the Pac-12 is able to get in games by Oct. 24 and play eight games that should be enough to placate the College Football Playoff committee, but anything less it would be hard to justify even an undefeated team with just six or seven wins to admit them into a New Year’s Six or playoff game.
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