UW’s season opener against Oregon State at 8 p.m. on Saturday is still on.
Despite COVID-19 concerns connected to Oregon State, the Beavers still plan to travel to Seattle for Saturday’s game, both schools confirmed Friday. If OSU was unable to play, Pac-12 officials had considered scheduling a makeup game against Cal on Sunday.
The Beavers are scheduled to board a flight for Seattle at 6 p.m.
UW and Cal were originally scheduled to open their seasons against each other in Berkeley last weekend, but a single positive COVID-19 test wiped out an entire Cal position group due to contact tracing and the game could not be played. Two other Pac-12 contests — Cal-Arizona State and Utah-UCLA — were canceled on Friday. Cal and UCLA are now scheduled to meet at the Rose Bowl at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
Fifteen college football games this week have been either canceled or postponed across the country.
On Thursday, Oregon State announced that one football player had tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday and three more had been placed in quarantine. Beavers athletics director Scott Barnes stated that the team had not had a positive antigen test in the two days since.
“We are absolutely playing Saturday, so no issue there,” Barnes told The Oregonian at the time.
In his weekly press conference on Monday, Huskies coach Jimmy Lake discussed the difficulty of scheduling an impromptu opponent on short notice.
“It’s really not the game plan part of it (that’s most challenging),” he said. “It’s really more the logistics of getting the team to that city, getting a hotel for close to a hundred people, getting meals ready for over a hundred people for breakfast, lunch and dinner and another dinner at the last second. Also the equipment truck … I know our equipment truck was on its way to Berkeley on Wednesday (last week), then all of a sudden had to turn around when we found out there was no game.
“If we knew Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, that the game was going to be canceled, I think it makes it way more easy to get things changed and transition. But 24 hours, 48 hours, that’s going to be tough — extremely tough.”
For the Pac-12, a further complication is the fact that the states of Washington, California and Oregon — which contain eight of the conference’s 12 programs — instituted a travel advisory on Friday that recommended a 14-day quarantine following all interstate travel. The advisory does allow for essential travel — which it defines as “work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.”
The Pac-12’s strenuous testing protocol will likely allow all teams to bypass the recommended quarantines. On Friday, Nick Daschel — who covers Oregon State football for The Oregonian — reported that the Beavers did not require permission from Benton County Health to board a flight to Seattle.
Of course, UW has already had three season openers — Michigan on Sept. 5, Stanford on Sept. 26 and Cal on Nov. 7. — scheduled and subsequently scrapped.
And, until UW and Oregon State actually kick off at 8 p.m. on Saturday, the fourth is far from guaranteed.
Lake understands that better than most.
“At this point it really feels like we’re not surprised anymore,” he said Monday when asked how the staff has responded to so many schedule changes. “We’re just like, ‘OK, here we go. It’s on to the next. Let’s build a plan and let’s get ready to go.’ That’s all you can do at this point.
“I tell you what: My assistant, we’re changing schedules at the last second, and we look at each other like, ‘OK. We’ve done this before. Here we go. Let’s do it again.’ That’s just how it has to be, and don’t be surprised by it. As we sit here right now, the schedule could change by the end of the day and I will not be surprised. I will not be surprised. We’ll be ready to move on and go.”