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Oklahoma football: Will Pac-12 play conference games only?

The Pac-12 has discussed switching to an 11-game, conference-only college football schedule this season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But I have a question.

Exactly what would that accomplish?

"It's been discussed in our Pac-12 meetings, and it's been discussed by the commissioners," Southern Cal coach Clay Helton said on a conference call that included Stanford coach David Shaw and Washington State coach Nick Rolovich.

Clearly, all conferences have discussed such a model. TCU coach Gary Patterson brought it up about six weeks ago as a possibility.

But such a scheduling system would serve only to keep logistics in house. They would not make things necessarily safer or even easier.

Travel, for example. The Pac-12 is a far-flung conference, stretching from Tucson, Arizona, to Seattle, a distance of 1,527 miles. That’s not a bus trip. Boulder, Colorado, is a 1,027-mile trip to Los Angeles. Pullman, Washington, is a 898-mile trip to Palo Alto, California, and Washington State and Stanford are in the same division.

No, talk of a conference-only schedule is a plan of philosophy, not convenience. It’s much easier for conferences to decide policies and protocols within their own ranks than agree with outsiders.

What happens if five players on a team test positive for the coronavirus before a game? Three players? One? Is the game canceled? The answer might be different, depending on if it’s California-Oregon or Ole Miss-Texas A&M.

Helton said the Pac-12 isn’t expecting a final decision for at least six weeks, which means almost July. And that’s wise. When March arrived, ballteams were flying all over the country, playing games. High school tournaments were staged with gusto. Look how things have changed. When July arrives, who knows how the American landscape will look?

Many have pondered how a College Football Playoff will look if teams play reduced or conference-only schedules. But that’s a small matter in the bigger picture of college football. With the season threatened and athletic budgets imperiled, getting as much revenue out of the regular season is paramount.

Interestingly, Stanford’s Shaw said he doesn't necessarily agree with NCAA president Mark Emmert's statement that college campuses should be open before college sports can resume.

"I think that's a great sentiment, but I don't know that that's going to rule the day when it's all said and done," said Shaw. "I think the president of the United States is going to have a weigh-in, and I think every state governor is going to have a weigh-in. I think every president, provost, chancellor is going to have a weigh-in. There may be a scenario to where campuses are partially open, and if we can bring back athletes and bring back a section of the student body, that may not be exactly what Mr. Emmert is talking about, but that may be good for a certain university. They may feel they're comfortable and ready to resume part of their normal activities and still field teams for fall sports, and not just football, then I think that's going to be acceptable."

Shaw appears to be on an island with that belief. Most university administrators have said having students back on campus is required before college football could resume, though there have been disagreement on other issues.

Related Photos
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, gets set to pass before being sacked by Oklahoma linebacker Jalen Redmond during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, gets set to pass before being sacked by Oklahoma linebacker Jalen Redmond during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c73b0455f8f91a3fc5529796fa886b3a.jpg" alt="Photo - UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, gets set to pass before being sacked by Oklahoma linebacker Jalen Redmond during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)" title="UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, gets set to pass before being sacked by Oklahoma linebacker Jalen Redmond during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)"><figcaption>UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, gets set to pass before being sacked by Oklahoma linebacker Jalen Redmond during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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