Pac-12 football proceeding with cautious optimism

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham watches his defense during second-half action in the Utah-BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham watches his defense during second-half action in the Utah-BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Safety is the obvious priority during the coronavirus pandemic

SALT LAKE CITY — Although the Pac-12 Conference released its revamped football schedule Friday, the coronavirus pandemic has folks in the know proceeding with cautious optimism.

Training camps are expected to begin on or around Aug. 17, with the conference-only season kicking off Sept. 26. Each team has a designated bye week, and the league championship game will be played at a school site (Dec. 18 or 19), offering additional flexibility at season’s end.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott acknowledged that everything will be re-evaluated throughout the situation because of the pandemic. He said the conference is going into this with a lot of humility and a plan.

“We’re going to follow medical guidance along the way, but we’re going to have to monitor how things go,” Scott said. “It’s one of the reasons why building in flexibility to the schedule was so important.”

Scott explained that it’s a real possibility that there could be a COVID-19 outbreak within a team. If so, quarantining will require the rescheduling of a game.

“So basically we’ve got two opportunities for each team to potentially reschedule — or delay the start,” said Scott, who noted that not all markets currently have the same opportunities because of the virus.

When asked how confident he was that there would actually be a college football season, Scott answered that he did not know.

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“I think we are all trying to take a step at a time. We are cautiously optimistic sitting here today,” Scott said. “There are elements outside our control that are going to have a lot of influence on that question. What’s happening in our communities? What’s happening in our campuses?”

Mask wearing, social distancing and what happens when thousands of students come back to school are factors.

“None of us have the answer to that question,” said Scott, who added that the conference feels a tremendous obligation for the health and well-being of its student-athletes.

Utah athletics director Mark Harlan released a similar statement about the fluid situation.

”This is an exciting announcement as we continue to plan for fall sports seasons while taking all precautions for doing so in a safe and healthy manner,” he said. “I am particularly excited for our student-athletes and coaches in our fall sports who now have dates to plan for. We, and they, know we must also remain flexible as we go forward.”

After dealing with the unknowns the past couple of months, Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham noted that the release of a schedule brings the student-athletes one step close to getting back own the field.

However, the Utes are taking a measured approach.

”The No. 1 priority of our program, university and conference is the health and safety of our student-athletes and we will continue to work together to make sure we operate that way in …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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