USC football, the Pac-12 still can’t return even as the Big Ten votes to play

USC football plays in the Pac-12. (David Madison/Getty Images)
USC football plays in the Pac-12. (David Madison/Getty Images) /

As the Big Ten voted to return to play, USC football and the Pac-12 are still hamstrung by local regulations.

The Big Ten will kick off their 2020 season on Oct. 24 after weeks of back-and-forth between presidents, administrators, coaches, players and player’s families, according to multiple reports.

Does that mean USC football and the Pac-12 will also make the move to play sooner than expected?

Sorry Trojan fans, the Pac-12 can’t return that quite early, even if they’ve made great strides on the daily testing front.

USC football has been unable to practice because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Big Ten may be restarting but the Pac-12 faces more hurdles to return.

The state of California and local officials still haven’t given USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal approval to practice in any meaningful way. The Trojans are conditioning in small groups outdoors. The Cardinal can only have two players touch the same ball on each play, which means they can’t have a center snap to the quarterback and the quarterback throw to a receiver.

Oregon and Oregon State are in a similar boat.

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The conference hopes to change that soon as they bring in rapid testing ability for all 12 programs thanks to Quidel antigen tests.

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News explained the science behind those tests in his latest column, which is worth a read. The short of it is this: Antigen tests with results in 15 minutes could mean reducing the fear of viral spread during practice and games to zero.

Unfortunately, even with such positive momentum on the testing side of things, clearing state and local hurdles will take time. USC players won’t be able to turn up on Wednesday and start practicing in preparation for kickoff as soon as the Big Ten plans.

The Quidel testing machines will be in place by the end of September. Approval to practice won’t come a moment before that happens. Then there will be a few days of training to get them up and running. Then schools like USC could hope to begin practicing, maybe as early as Sept. 28, but more likely in the week of Oct. 5.

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The Pac-12 is targeting a mid-November start, according to Heather Dinich of ESPN.

Whenever it happens, at least there are growing signs that a football season in the Pac-12 is possible.

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