The fall football season is facing a fourth-and-long, but the Pac-12 is not choosing to punt.
At least not yet.
Nearly two weeks after announcing the cancellation of nonconference games, the Pac-12 is finalizing plans to play a 10-game conference-only schedule to begin Sept. 19.
The move would buy Pac-12 leaders an extra two weeks for a Hail Mary: Dramatic improvement in the nation’s COVID-19 battle as cases spike within the conference footprint.
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News first reported the Pac-12’s new model to play football during the ongoing pandemic.
Oregon was originally supposed to open the season Sept. 5 against North Dakota State. Hawaii was scheduled to visit Autzen Stadium on Sept. 19.
The Ducks’ marquee game against Ohio State on Sept. 12 was canceled on July 9 when the Big Ten announced it was moving to a conference-only schedule, a day before the Pac-12 made the same decision.
According to the Pac-12’s new proposal, each team will have a 14-week window to complete 10 games. The conference would also hold a championship game at the new NFL stadium in Las Vegas during one of the first three weeks in December.
UO president Michael Schill, the new chairman of the Pac-12 CEO Group, and his peers will have to approve the new plan, which is expected to be announced next week.
Coronavirus cases have surged in recent weeks in Arizona and California, states where half of the conference’s programs reside.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who lives in the Bay Area, recently tested positive for COVID-19.
California and Washington are pushing high school football to the spring.
The Oregon School Activities Association’s executive board announced Wednesday that because football is considered a "full-contact activity" by Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon Health Authority guidelines, the sport is currently prohibited until further notice.
The Ducks are still conducting voluntary workouts while awaiting permission to begin full-team activities.
The NCAA Board of Governors will meet Friday to consider the fate of fall sports. That could mean voting whether or not to cancel championships for Olympic sports like men’s and women’s cross country, soccer and volleyball.
On March 12, the NCAA canceled its winter championships, including the lucrative men’s basketball tournament, and the spring championships.
However, the NCAA does not oversee the College Football playoff or bowl games.
The ACC and SEC have delayed the start of fall sports to Sept. 1.
Five of the 13 FCS football conferences have canceled fall sports.
The National Junior College Athletic Association has announced its football season will be moving to the spring.
Football revenue accounts for over 70% of Oregon’s athletic department budget.
The defending Pac-12 champion Ducks are currently scheduled to open conference play on Sept. 26 at Colorado.
North Division rivals Washington (Oct. 3) and Stanford (Oct. 24) are scheduled to come to Eugene this fall, as well as South Division favorite USC (Nov. 7).
The Ducks’ other current road games are at California (Oct. 17), Arizona (Oct. 31), Washington State (Nov. 21) and Oregon State (Nov. 28).
If the Pac-12 keeps those opponents on the schedule, Oregon will likely be adding a home game against either UCLA or Utah to the 10-game slate.
Contact reporter Ryan Thorburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-338-2330, and follow him on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn and Instagram @rg_ducksports. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.