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Big Ten Football To Return; Pac-12 Players Want to Play

Local players not practicing due to fires

Published on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 | 1:00 pm

Hours before the Big Ten announced the return of football next month, USC players asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow the return of college football in California.

If Newsom consents, it would mean the return of college football to the Rose Bowl. 

“The current reality is that there are too many restrictions imposed by state and local public health officials in California that prevent us from resuming practices and competition,” reads the letter from USC players. “We cannot practice in groups larger than 12, we cannot gather as a team, and we cannot utilize any of our indoor facilities. From the onset of this pandemic, the Pac-12 has rightfully and responsibly maintained that their decisions would be based on science, and now it appears that the science and technology have turned in our favor of playing.”

But much would have to change before those players could even return to practice.

Currently, college football players in California and Oregon are not allowed to practice due to the bad air quality caused by the wildfires in both states. 

“We are equally closely monitoring the devastating fires and air quality in our region at this time,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “We are eager for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to play this season, as soon as it can be done safely and in accordance with public health authority approvals.”

The Pac-12 is looking at a possible return in November and players are wondering why they cannot take the field now, as the NFL and other college teams have done.

“I think the Pac 12 has had its priorities right,” said Rose Bowl General Manager Daryl Dunn. “I’m sure they would love to have their students out there playing sports. We’re ready to support them. We’d love nothing more than for the Rose Bowl to be utilized safely.”

Dunn said Rose Bowl officials have stayed in contact with UCLA and the Tournament of Roses. 

Officials at the stadium had three scenarios for college at the iconic stadium, the possibilities accounted for an August start to UCLA football, a Spring 2021 start to UCLA football, or no Rose Bowl events at all through June 20.

The Big Ten and the Pac-12 canceled sports in August. To make matters worse,  UCLA, which plays in the Rose Bowl, cannot practice due to poor air quality caused by the fire. 

“At this time, our universities in California and Oregon do not have approval from state or local public health officials to start contact practice,” Scott of the Pac 12 said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We are hopeful that our new daily testing capability can help satisfy public health official approvals in California and Oregon to begin contact practice and competition.”

The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to resume the football season on Oct. 23. 

“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Jim Borchers, head team physician with The Ohio State University and co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee. 

The Big Ten will require student-athletes, coaches, trainers, and other individuals that are on the field for all practices and games to undergo daily antigen testing. Test results must be completed and recorded prior to each practice or game. Student-athletes who test positive for the coronavirus through point of contact (POC) daily testing would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of the POC test.

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