SP Sports Weekly Breaking News: PAC-12 to play 2020 football season

The State Press sports editors discuss the PAC-12's decision to reverse course and play football this fall

Sports editors Alex Coil and Koki Riley break down the PAC-12's decision to play football beginning on November 6. Many of the other winter sports like basketball are also making a comeback.


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KOKI: 

Hello everybody. And welcome to SP Sports Weekly. This is an emergency podcast edition. We do not have any guests on today's show, but instead we have breaking news. Yes, emergency pod. Thank you, Alex. And that breaking news is that football is back and is back in 2020 the Pac-12 CEO group today. Just a few hours ago, really? Voted to bring back football for this season, starting on November 7, I believe. 

ALEX:

Yeah. The, yeah, that week, the week of November 6, November 7. 

KOKI:

Yes. Yes. The week of November 6, November 7. And along with that, basketball is also coming back as is many of the other winter sports. The CEO group decided to vote for bringing back those sports for 2020. So, Alex, you were in the zoom meeting today. So Alex, what was your reaction to the return of sports, ASU sports, Pac-12 sports for 2020. 

ALEX: 

I mean, obviously the first reaction is excitement. We as editors of a school paper's sports section, we're watching all of these other schools participate in sports. Most of them successfully and in a healthy manner. And we can't cover it because technically it's not our school. Now we're going to have that opportunity. We'll be in about six weeks, but we're still going to have that opportunity, and I obviously; I'm very excited for that. 

KOKI: 

So, Alex, today you were in the conference-wide zoom meeting with ASU athletic director Ray Anderson among others. What was the feeling within the zoom call on those who are participating at just like what was sort of the feeling in the room? In the zoom, I should say. 

ALEX: 

I will say that obviously, they're ready to get going. It's been a long time coming as everybody knows, but this was an evolving process, even from the day that they said that they were postponing everything. They were not directly scheduling new things, but they were constantly talking about it. They got the Quidel testing about three weeks ago. That allows for daily testing, you know, ASU specifically already had their testing available to all students whenever it was needed. So, ASU wasn't directly affected by Quidel testing. But the rest of the Pac-12 that was a huge element in kickstarting this, and obviously the local governments and health organizations changing, not changing the level of the guidelines, but maneuvering the guidelines enough to where this can happen.

KOKI: 

So other than just this football piece, there was also the basketball piece of this, the winter sports piece of this news. So can you kind of elaborate on some of the details within that? 

ALEX: 

Yeah. So the men's and women's basketball. We're going to start with the rest of the country on Thanksgiving weekend, we just don't know where and specific times of that. Now all the other winter sports are good to go as well. And they wanted to make sure because also I'm not sure who noticed this, but things like soccer, volleyball, cross country weren't directly mentioned in the release. Those are fall sports.

And the explanation that I believe it was Larry Scott kind of put out there was for cross country. The way he explained it was, they have a season explained it was there. The season that goes pretty much year-round. So they're not as affected by having a "fall season," the others, the volleyballs and women's soccer, or in ASU's case and the men's soccer and the rest of the conference case, the NCAA backed up the championship date for those sports until the spring. So they're going to have those sports in the spring as now is scheduled. So winter sports are currently a full go. Football? As full as you can get a go starting on November 6, November 7.

KOKI: 

And they also mentioned in this release, I believe that there will be no fans at these events either, correct? 

ALEX: 

Yeah, no fans at these events. And there was an interesting way this was worded. It was no fans in attendance of events that are held on a Pac-12 campus. So does that mean that the Pac-12 championship game, if it's held in Las Vegas or something, could they have fans? I'm not sure. I'm sure, they're still trying to figure that out. And they'll put that on a later date, but any event that is on the PAC-12 schools campus will not have it.

KOKI: 

So, Alex, we know that winter sports are coming back, including basketball; we know some of these other sports such as volleyball. We played in the spring instead of the fall. And we know that football is coming back in November. So just getting back to football, what will that football schedule sort of look like then? 

ALEX: 

Yeah. Well, the way the plan is currently set is to, again, start on the week of November 6, November 7. And the reason that date was chosen was it's basically six weeks starting this week. Pretty much the presidents wanted to make sure there was a six-week ramp-up period because obviously, that's what was recommended by the NCAA, but also you're seeing a lot of injuries in the NFL, some other collegiate games as well and then want to limit that as much as possible. November 6, November 7, when they're going to start, then they're going to go all the way to the week of December 18 for the championship week. And I say championship week because every Pac-12 team will play a game on championship week, Pac-12 championship one in the South against one in the North. We'll play each other, the two in each we'll play each other three and so on all the way down to six. So that is where you'll get your seventh game in. Again, this is a seven-game schedule. So as the first six weeks are going to play out, it is going to be, each team will play its inner division opponents, all of them, all five. And then that sixth will be to be determined cross-divisional opponent. So you're going to get all five of them, of the South. So ASU will play USC, Colorado, Utah, UCLA and Arizona, and then one in the North.

KOKI: 

With only a seven game season that Alex, although it is quite interesting, the seven game season should say ASU, just we're playing the theoretical game here, should say ASU wins the PAC 12 championship. Have the best record as seven games and win that championship game. Then would they be deserving of making the College Football Playoff despite playing for three, four, five less games than the rest of the con, then most of the other con major conferences in college football?

ALEX: 

And another point to that. You're also saying ASU is going to play all seven of their games. We don't know if that's true. Well, they get one canceled because there's no room in the schedule to make up a canceled game. That's another point that should be brought up, but something that Larry Scott really wanted to make apparent, obviously he's going to say this because he's the commissioner of the league, is that a Pac-12 team should obviously be looked at as a chance. To make that, four-team college football playoff, that's remained to be seen cause we see in a 12 game, 12-13 game season anyway, that the PAC-12 is that kind of fifth of five, power five conferences in terms of prestige. So, you know, even playing less games than pretty much every other conference is going to, in my opinion, hurt those chances unless there's a team that blows everybody out. It goes undefeated honestly. Now, in terms of, could there be expansion? Cause obviously there are people like that. Oh, let's expand the playoff to make sure to prevent all that speculation and stuff. Well, Larry Scott also said, apparently he sits on one of the boards that determine the CFP and all that stuff, not determines who's in it, but like the makeup of it and stuff like that, he said that among his peers on that committee and among the commissioners, there's no real momentum towards that. So this year, for sure, I'm going to say that there's going to be no expansion CFP and probably not for the near future. 

KOKI: 

With the upcoming college basketball season, ASU had a very eventful offseason with the addition of Josh Christopher, Marcus Bagley and with their top guards like Alonzo Verge and Remy Martin coming back to school. So what does this news of the PAC-12 basketball season starting in November help, does that help this team in your mind?

ALEX: 

It helps this team because the morale is instantly boosted. I know that some of the players on the team, we're kind of like, alright I don't even, I don't know what I'm going to do since we're postponed all the way until 2021. They're a little bit down on themselves. Now they're immediately back. They're going to be starting with everybody else in the rest of the country. So they have their chance to prove the Pac-12 is a good league if they have any non-conference opponents, they have a chance to win the Pac-12, which they have a very solid chance to do so with the roster that Bobby Hurley and his coaches have recruited. And then also make noise in that NCAA tournament. I think the last year we saw a very decent Pac-12 season, probably one of the best Pac-12 regular seasons that we've seen out this ASU team in a while. And I think that's something that Bobby Hurley wants to build off of, so we're going to see a lot of energy and explosion out of the gate from this team, for sure.

KOKI: 

Similar question, but on the football side, now that they have a season, what kind of season do you sort of expect the sun devils team to have despite the fact they only have seven games to prove it?

ALEX: 

Yeah. Well, I think the interesting part is going to see who that cross-divisional opponent will be in the regular season, that first six weeks, you know, what your other five are going to be. But you know, if you draw an Oregon, if you draw, let's say a Washington or maybe a Stanford or something from that North, those teams are going to be pretty solid. Obviously, Stanford's got to improve off a couple of bad years, but that is going to be part of it for bowl purposes and who knows. College football playoff purposes or whatever you want to look at it now in terms of players to look at, obviously Jayden Daniels is this in his second year and you're going to want to see some progress out of him. But Frank Darby is the guy that I'm going to be watching most of the season. He is trying to become the third consecutive year, third consecutive wide receiver from ASU taking the first round. He has the potential. He showed up in a couple of games last year, the Oregon game, he had a nice touchdown reception. Also played decently in the bowl game as well. And if he can get to that next level like Brandon Aiyuk did, after he became the number one option like Harry did after he became the number one option it only takes one good season. Now Darby has that chance to raise his NFL stock. 

KOKI: 

That's an interesting analysis, Alex. Thank you for giving us your insight on this story and giving us maybe some vague predictions for the upcoming ASU basketball and now present ASU football season. So that's, that'll do it, folks. ASU football is back for the 2020 season breaking news here from The State Press. And for more stories on ASU football, and all ASU sports-related content, please stick here with The State Press. Thank you for listening.


Reach the reporters at ancoil@asu.edu and kbriley@asu.edu and follow @anc2018 and @KokiRiley on Twitter.

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