Pac-12 votes to play fall season; All NCAA teams bowl eligible

Jude Papillion, Staff Reporter

Following the Big Ten Conference’s Sept. 16 decision to play college football in the fall, the Pac-12 Conference has also turned the tide and will play football this fall.

The 12-team Pac-12 Conference voted to have a seven-game season that will kick off on Nov. 6 and end on Dec. 18 with the Pac-12 championship game and five other cross-division games.

The Pac-12 had plenty of reason to bring back its football season. Similar to the Big Ten, the Pac-12 is far more comfortable with COVID-19 concerns and how to prevent them than they were when they originally canceled their season.

The president of Oregon University claims that money was not a consideration in the conference’s decision to play. However, The College Football Playoff is giving the Pac-12 $66 million for playing and the possibility of adding another $4 million if a Pac-12 team plays in a New Year’s Six bowl game. In addition, the Pac-12 split $32 million between its universities for its media rights deal with ESPN and Fox in 2018-19.z

If the Pac-12 decided not to play this fall they would have been the only Power Five conference to either potentially play in the spring or to sit the season out altogether, leading many to question if the conference is as committed to playing high-level, championship football as the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, and Atlantic Coast Conference.

According to BetMGM, Oregon (+220) is the favorite to win the Pac-12 followed by USC (+250) and Washington (+280).

In response to playing this fall, USC Head Coach Clay Helton stated “We are excited and appreciative for the decision that came from our presidents and chancellors today to start the 2020 football season. The patience that our University leaders showed has allowed us the time to produce the safest environment possible for our student athletes. We thank the Pac 12 Conference and their medical advisory team for not only supplying the daily testing needed but also the scientific knowledge and advice that led to today’s decision.”

The NCAA’s Division I Football Oversight Committee has also recommended waiving the requirements for bowl eligibility for this season. Previously, teams had to have a record of .500 against FBS opponents to be bowl eligible. While the recommendation will likely be approved, it will wait until the Division I Council discusses it Oct. 13-14. This will allow for teams playing with shortened seasons and teams impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to still participate in bowl games.