In a reversal of a decision made just six weeks ago, the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences have both announced that they will play football this fall.
For the Pac-12 it will be a seven-game conference-only season that begins Nov. 6. The decision was approved by a vote of the Pac-12’s CEO group on Thursday.
“This has been the result of what we said back in August — that we’d follow the science, follow the data, follow the advice from our medical experts,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said, “and that we know how badly our student-athletes want to compete, as student-athletes for the Pac-12, but that we would only do so when we felt that we could do so safely.”
The Mountain West will play an eight-game schedule beginning October 24. The decision was approved by league presidents late Thursday.
“This is a great opportunity to get our student-athletes back on the field of competition in a cautious and regulated fashion,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a statement.
Both reverse decisions come in the wake of a similar announcement last week from the Big Ten, which will start its football season Oct. 24.
The Pac-12 faced additional pressure after the ACC, Big 12 and SEC remained set on playing in the fall. There was a common belief in the Pac-12, sources told ESPN, that after the Big Ten postponed its season, the other Power 5 conferences would eventually do the same. When that didn’t happen and the Big Ten faced significant pressure to change course, and eventually did, the Pac-12 was left to find a way not to be the only Power 5 conference idle in the fall.
Every Pac-12 team will play the five opponents in its division, plus a divisional crossover game, prior to the Dec. 18 conference championship game. The teams that do not qualify for the title game will play an additional conference game against a squad from the opposite division the same weekend. The Pac-12 will release its full schedule of games in the next few days, the conference said.
While the Mountain West has not announced its schedule yet, the eight conference opponents for each Mountain West school will presumably be the same opponents they were set to face before the season was postponed just weeks ago.
No fans will be allowed to attend Pac-12 games taking place on campuses. That decision will be revisited in January, the conference said. The Mountain West has not announced whether fans will be allowed to attend games. However, because of states restrictions where most of the schools are located, it is unlikely that fans will be allowed.
The Mid-American Conference, the only FBS league without a fall season in place, will have a presidents meeting Friday where a vote on a season is expected, sources said. The MAC, which on Aug. 8 became the first league to postpone the fall football season, is considering a six-game season to begin in November according to ESPN