Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is asking the College Football Playoff Management Committee to delay the start of the playoff due to surging COVID-19 numbers across the country. The committee will discuss the idea on Wednesday, per Jon Wilner of the Mercury News, but Wilner reports that sources did not “indicate a change is imminent.”
The CFP has been steadfast since August that its three games would be played as scheduled following the season. The semifinals — this year being the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl — are slated for Jan. 1, while the national championship game will be played on Jan. 11. The committee will reportedly entertain the idea to show that all options are on the table, but there has been practically no movement to push back any part of the college football season.
Though Scott is reportedly “not optimistic” his suggestion will pass, it is his job to at least ask. From the Mercury News:
“They’re talking about anything and everything,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said (via email) of the management committee, which consists of the 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
“Larry did suggest considering the dates of the games, which is certainly in the ‘anything and everything’ universe.”
Scott is coming from an understandable position. After initially eschewing a football season until the spring of 2021, the Pac-12 opted to play a modified, conference-only schedule that would, at most, produce seven games for its title game participants. However, the November start didn’t allow for any wiggle room and the testing partnership with Quidel Corporation has resulted in some early headaches. Rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the region has heavily impacted programs like Arizona State and Utah. Five Pac-12 games have already been canceled in the first two weeks of the season.
As such, the Pac-12 finds itself behind the 8-ball regarding the playoff race, more so than usual. The problem is the country is already heading into the worst stretch of the pandemic at the same time Pac-12 football is ramping up. Pushing games back by anywhere from two weeks to a month guarantees nothing — only that there will be more opportunities to delay the games even further.