The Washington State football team began mandatory workouts this week in the face of the coronavirus pandemic as the Pac-12 reportedly worked on plans for a 10-game conference-only season.
The conference is expected to release a tentative schedule by late next week, the San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday. It will include 10 conference games for each school, instead of the usual nine.
The Pac-12 had announced earlier this month it was canceling nonleague games because of the pandemic, leaving vague the number of league games to be played and dates of season openers.
According to multiple reports, Washington State moved forward with mandatory workouts this week, which would indicate the Pac-12 hopes to launch a season in perhaps mid-September. The Mercury News report pointed to Sept. 19 as a possibility.
But the winds of speculation were blowing in the opposite direction as well later in the day after WSU’s announcement it will conduct only online classes this fall, as opposed to in-person ones.
As with all blueprints for the 2020 football season, any rehashed Pac-12 schedule will be at the mercy of the pandemic, which has seen a resurgence in recent weeks.
“They are assuming some success in the next month or two (against the virus),” a source told the Mercury News.
According to an NCAA plan announced in June, the Cougars could have started mandatory drills July 11 — based on the date of their season opener — but that timetable was dashed by the Pac-12 decision to scrap nonconference games and delay the start of the season.
In any case, the mandatory workouts are restricted to eight hours a week of weight-training, conditioning and film review. The next phase of the NCAA reopening plan would allow six hours of walk-throughs per week for a two-week period before the start of traditional preseason workouts.
Cases of COVID-19 have been surging throughout the states that comprise Pac-12 schools. However, the numbers of athletes who test positive don’t necessarily impact that particular state. They would count against their home state.
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