PALO ALTO, Calif. - The big score for Stanford football, and its cross-Bay rival Cal, could come Friday. Leaders of the PAC-12 Conference will meet virtually to discuss launching the 2020 season.
“We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season,” said Commissioner Larry Scott in an email. “As soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals.”
“Being a big sports fan, especially a Boston sports fan, we want to see everybody get back together,” said college sports fan Wendy Kirkaldie.
The gleam of hope hanging over avid fans comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom, (D) Calif., joined with Oregon’s governor and said the season’s starter’s gun is in the hands of county health officials.
“There’s nothing in the state guidelines that denies the PAC 12 from having conference games,” Newsom said Wednesday.
Last month, the PAC-12 put its football season in the deep freeze due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.
"We looked at spread which was increasing in some of our areas, we looked at government directives," conference group CEO Chairman Michael Schill said Aug. 11.
Since then, COVID testing, social distancing, and masks instead of helmets, have slowed the infection rate.
The Santa Clara County Health Department emailed a statement to KTVU saying it part, “We will review the (Stanford) plan once it is made available, and welcome dialogue to determine whether or not there is a way to facilitate team practice and games in a manner that minimizes risk….”
Stanford’s statement says, “…We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season.”
“I want to play. And all my teammates, I’m confident, they all want to play. And I’m sure every team and every player in the PAC-12 wants to play. That as a given, it’s football. We need time to prepare,” said Stanford wide receiver Connor Weddington.
That preparation includes practicing without bunching more than 12 people together at one time. And a schedule of games. Experts say the decisions about what happens on the grid iron go far beyond campuses and conferences.
“A return of major college football is often times is a sign of normalcy,” said San Jose State University Prof. Shaun Fletcher, who teaches sport communication & public relations. “We all understand that major college football and major college sports in general has a major impact on the economy.” Added Sports Page sports bar owner Jaqueline Graham, “We’re just delighted the NFL is back, and sports are coming back. I think people are just so happy to be out watching sports again.”
While fans won’t be allowed at the games, their usual haunts are set up to show the action, as America the PAC 12 seem poised to take another step toward getting back to normal.