During the past few weeks, the Pac-12 Conference has discussed numerous options with its football coaches about how or when the next season could be played.
“I don’t know if we could count them,” California head coach Justin Wilcox said. “Hours and hours and hours of modeling different seasons and what those would look like based on when the start time would be.”
Wilcox, Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin and Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal took part in a webinar Thursday hosted by the Pac-12. It was the last of four sessions this week that involved each head coach in the conference.
The coaches on Thursday’s session echoed what others have said this week — that it’s just too early to know when the season will begin because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused stay-at-home orders and the shutdown of sports around the world.
Wilcox said that while countless scenarios have been discussed, “I think we’ve spent more time with our normal schedule and then from there, what are the modified schedules that could happen if need be?
“We’re fully intent on playing this season. How we get to that point, daily it changes.”
One common scenario being discussed nationally has been to move the college football season into January. Wilcox called that an “incredibly complex model,” with Sumlin and Cristobal agreeing with him.
“After January 1, you get into some other issues,” Sumlin said. “You get into some eligibility issues. You get into classes for next semester. Some guys may have been able to graduate, (there are) some incoming people.
“If the NFL doesn’t change what they’re doing, you’ve got some guys that might be affected by the combine or the draft. What does that say for (the 2021) season? What does that say for players that are coming back to your program and if (the 2020) season starts then, are you trying to play 24 games in a 12-month calendar? It’s not as easy as that.”
While a January start time would not be preferred, the coaches said they’d be in favor of anything that allows for a season to happen while also keeping players safe.
“Ultimately, guys want to play football,” Sumlin said. “We want the safest model and if that’s the model, so be it, but it’s going to affect things for the next year more so than people are talking about right now.”
Throughout the week, several coaches have praised the Pac-12 for its communication and efforts to be prepared for what decisions will be made in the future.
“I think we are as prepared as a league – based on the meetings that we’ve had and the scenarios that we’ve talked about – as anybody in the country,” Sumlin said.
Several athletic departments around the country, including Colorado, have announced pay cuts for coaches and administrators for the next year because of the negative financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cristobal and Sumlin said it wasn’t difficult to take the cut.
“It’s a difficult and unprecedented time in our world,” Cristobal said. “It’s something that, now more than ever, people have to show unity as we tackle this together. So, no it wasn’t difficult.”
Cal has not yet asked its coaches to take a pay cut, but Wilcox said he would be “100 percent behind” supporting the athletic department and being a part of a solution.
On Thursday, Colorado was named to the Football Writers Association of America’s 11th annual Super 11, which honors the best performing sports information departments in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
CU and Clemson were both honored for the seventh time; for CU it was the sixth honor in the past seven years.
From the Pac-12, Cal joined CU on the list.
Wilcox said Cal has discussed the possibility of moving to an off campus site for football if needed. “Everything is on the table,” he said. “We’ve discussed preliminary logistics and there are logistics involved, but those are the discussions we’re having on a daily basis.” He declined to name particular sites that have been discussed. … All of the coaches this week said they were pleased with how their players and staff have handled the COVID-19 situation. The true test, however, will come when the teams get on the field. “The team that handles this kind of stuff the best is probably going to have the best chance to have a successful season,” Cristobal said.