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USC football stuck in limbo as Pac-12 cancels fall season

Aug 11, 2020, 5:50 AM PDT
USC football head coach Clay Helton. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
USC football head coach Clay Helton. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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USC football will not move forward in 2020 as the Pac-12 cancels the season.

And just like that, plans for a USC football season in 2020 are gone.

After days of speculation over the Pac-12 and the Big Ten canceling their fall football seasons, the answer for both came on Tuesday.

The Pac-12 is canceling the fall season, according to multiple reports from Brett McMurphy of Stadium and Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports. The conference is following in the Big Ten’s footsteps, and USC is once again stuck in limbo.

UPDATE: The Pac-12 released an official statement confirming the postponement of all sports competitions through the end of the calendar year.

USC football needed answers, but it won’t get any until 2021.

The best thing for USC football in 2020 would have been to play a full season, with head coach Clay Helton given the ability to either prove himself with his new staff or give the Trojans reason to move on.

A season opener against Alabama would have been a perfect proving ground for USC’s playoff aspirations under Helton while a tough Pac-12 schedule might have shown the Trojans’ endurance.

SEE ALSO: Clay Helton has the hottest seat in CFB

Instead, USC will finish out 2020 without any answers.

Helton will remain the head coach until 2021 when he will have to navigate a difficult road potentially without key players like Amon-Ra St. Brown, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jay Tufele and Talanoa Hufanga, who could be candidates to jump to the NFL.

Recruits won’t have the assurance Helton can take the Trojans to the top, leaving USC recruiting in its own kind of purgatory.

It’s the worst-case scenario, not just for college football, but for the Trojans and their fans, who continue to wait anxiously for signs of life or change.

When word of a potential Big Ten shutdown began circulating over the weekend, it made sense that the Pac-12 would follow their lead.

MORE: Cameron Smith must undergo open-heart surgery

However, as Big Ten coaches and players spoke out against canceling the season en masse, perception on the Pac-12 side didn’t seem to change.

Yes, high profile players like Kedon Slovis jumped on board the #WeWantToPlay movement, but coaches largely stayed out of it.

By Monday, reports of potential heart conditions developing after contracting COVID-19 came into focus. The Pac-12 was widely expected to hit pause, if not cancel the season outright.

Then on Tuesday, the Big Ten officially announced their decision to cancel the fall season with hopes of starting up again in the spring. It became inevitable that the Pac-12 would nix the campaign as well.

The questions now are varied and major.

Will players from the Pac-12, including USC, be permitted to transfer to a conference where football is expected to be played this fall? The SEC and ACC have made noises about pushing forward with their seasons. Will a mass exodus be allowed?

Is a spring season viable? Reports from early July suggested the Pac-12 was considering that possibility all along. How extensively was that scenario explored? What form will that spring season take? How will it be affected by the NFL Draft? How many players will opt to move straight to the pros if the season interferes with draft prep?

CHECK OUT: Which Trojans could opt-out for the NFL?

The cancelation of the fall season is just the first step towards figuring all that out. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks and months.

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