Pegged by many in college football as the conference most likely to cancel its fall season, the Pac-12 is plowing forward with plans for a 10-game conference-only schedule.

The conference’s announcement, with weekly matchups, is expected no later than the end of next week.

But the Hotline has pieced together the framework of the preferred model based on information provided by sources familiar with the plan.

Considering the coronavirus case counts and curve trajectories in several areas of the Pac-12 footprint, it’s a fairly aggressive approach that spans a maximum of 14 weeks beginning in the middle of September.

“They are assuming some success in the next month or two (against the virus),” one source said.

The conference canceled all nonconference games July 10, one day after the Big Ten made the move.


(The SEC, ACC and Big 12 are working on ‘plus’ models, by which they play a full slate of conference games and at least one nonconference opponent.)

But the Pac-12’s football planning group, which includes athletic directors, coaches and directors of football operations, has been modeling conference-only schedules for months and is in regular contact with the conference’s coronavirus advisory committee.

At least a half-dozen models have received consideration in recent weeks, sources said.

The final version, to be unveiled next week, will require approval by presidents and chancellors.

It is expected to include the following:

  • A 10-game regular-season, with each team playing its division opponents and five crossover games.

The conference has nine-game schedules ready and could switch to that model if the presidents prefer a more conservative approach or if public-health circumstances dictate a change.

“They want to be as flexible as possible, so they aren’t eliminating the nine-game option,” a source said.

  • Season openers have been scheduled for Sept. 19, or what would have been Week 3 on the original 2020 calendar.

The start date gives the conference time to ride out the current coronavirus surges; teams would not start formal training camp until the middle of August.

That phase of the process would require approval from health officials.

“The problem is that Utah and Los Angeles have very different situations; Washington and Washington State have very different situations,” a source said.

“So some of it will be up to the public-health people.”

  • At least two bye weeks are built into the lineup, creating windows for games that cannot be played as scheduled.

The Hotline was unable to confirm when those byes would be slotted into the months of October and November.

But sources said the conference also is allowing for a cushion in early December, at the end of the revised regular season.

  • The Pac-12 Championship Game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas could be played on any of three weekends.

It was originally scheduled for Friday, Dec. 4, and that remains an option under a best-case scenario.

But if that weekend is needed for makeup games — for example: if the teams cannot play the openers Sept. 19 — the conference has secured the option to stage the championship on the weekend of Dec. 11-12.

And if that weekend is also needed for makeups, the title game could get pushed back to the weekend of Dec. 18-19.

The date “will depend if they flex weeks,” a source said.

The pliable date for the championship is the result of flexibility with the bowl schedule.

ESPN, which owns the vast majority of bowl games, has the option to move them around like chess pieces — they could be rescheduled for January, if necessary.

The Pac-12’s primary concern with setting Dec. 19 as the latest possible date for its championship game was the College Football Playoff.

If the event goes off as scheduled, with semifinals at the Rose and Sugar Bowls on New Year’s Day, the Pac-12 wanted any potential participant to have two weeks to prepare.