USC football’s opening game opponent, UCLA, has had eight players test positive for COVID-19.
When the Pac-12 announced the new 2020 schedule, both USC football and UCLA took immediate pains to warn fans that the season opener scheduled for Sept. 26 would likely be moved.
On Wednesday, the probability of that only rose as LA County’s Director of Public Health revealed at least eight UCLA football players have tested positive for COVID-19.
USC football’s most recent testing update included one positive test among 122 student-athletes who have returned to campus.
USC football’s season opener is likely destined for rescheduling.
Bruin Report Online reported on the statements by Barbara Ferrer in her daily coronavirus update.
UCLA wasn’t the only university mentioned.
“We already started seeing hotspots at a local college. The largest outbreak is connected to the University of Southern California, where we’ve been investigating the outbreak of COVID-19 at three fraternities, with 45 confirmed cases associated already with this investigation,” Ferrer said. “We also saw separately a group of graduate students at USC who socialized, studied and some of them lived together who became infected. At UCLA, we’ve seen a number of football players who returned to campus and tested positive.”
The outbreaks at USC and UCLA should have fans in Los Angeles concerned first and foremost for the safety of those students and student-athletes. However, the presence of the virus on either campus will inevitably impact the upcoming football campaign as programs in the Pac-12 scramble to prepare for Fall Camp.
Already the two universities are beholden to policies set by local municipalities. After the schedule release, USC athletic director Mike Bohn and UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond released a joint statement confirming they “do not have the necessary county and state clearances to begin competitions.”
If they aren’t given the approval to hold practices or play games, the season will never get off the ground. The clock is ticking on that front.
The Pac-12 approved a plan which would allow its programs to begin Fall Camp practices on Aug. 17. However, USC and UCLA may not be able to begin so soon, narrowing their window to prepare for games this fall.
There are 34 days between Aug. 17 and the start of the first game week on Sept. 20. Each program has 25 practices to get through in Fall Camp. If the Los Angeles teams have to delay even a week before taking the practice field, they simply won’t have the time to safely make it through a full camp.
Delaying the first game would prove inevitable.
The trouble is, even LA County officials aren’t in control at this point. Ferrer said they are also waiting on guidance and directives from the state level.
At this point, 45 cases in the vicinity of USC’s campus and within the student body, along with eight confirmed cases within the UCLA football program, doesn’t bode well for Fall Camp beginning or the season starting on time.