It’s late October and the college football season — brought to you by COVID and the CDC — is sputtering along. It’s time to take the season’s pulse. Let’s see, teams in the ACC have already played five games. SEC schools and Notre Dame have played four games. Schools in the Big 12 have played between two and three games each.

And the Pac-12? None. The Pac-12 is still waiting, still on hold, while everyone else is on the field.

The Big Ten — which, along with the Pac-12, originally canceled its season — will begin play this week. But not the Pac-12. It will be two more weeks before the Pac begins its season. Not that there’s any hurry to join the party. It’s only the third week in October.

Whatever happened to Pac-12 player demands? Did love of game trump desire for change?

You might well wonder why the Pac-12 requires so much time to restart its football season, especially one that will consist of seven games, all of them conference-only games. Shortly after the Big Ten declared on Sept. 16 that it would play football this fall, the Pac-12 said it would “study” the possibility as well, but the league still required another week before actually deciding to play — and six more weeks after that to actually play a game, set for Nov. 7.

That means the season will finish in mid-December. The Pac-12, based in California, might not be aware of this, but two member schools, Colorado and Utah, have freezing temperatures and this stuff called snow that tends to fall from the sky that time of year. Sounds fun.

We know the Pac-12 lags behind the rest of the Power Five conferences on the gridiron, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. But six weeks? Are they planning football games, or a way to convert the world to the Green New Deal? We could understand the six-week delay if they were, you know, planning a lunar landing or developing a cure for COVID-19. But we’re talking about football games here.

Now is the perfect time to expand the College Football Playoff. So why was the idea shot down?

The Big 12 decided on Aug. 12 to play football — and a month later teams were playing games. They will play 10 games — three more than the Pac-12 — including one nonconference game. That’s four weeks.

Big Ten officials decided on Sept. 16 to play football, and on Friday — five weeks later — they will begin an eight-game conference-only schedule that will conclude a week later with a conference championship game.

The Mountain West decided on Sept. 24 to play an eight-game season, beginning one month later, on Oct. 24.

The SEC’s and ACC’s plans never wavered in their commitment to play football and quickly adjusted their schedules to focus on conference play. The SEC is playing a 10-game conference-only schedule that began Sept. 26. The ACC is playing an 11-game schedule, with one nonconference game, that began on Sept. 12. 

Big Ten definitely maybe means it this time

BYU, an independent, discovered in the second week of August that all but three of its opponents had canceled their games with the Cougars. Less than a month later, the Cougars played the first of 10 games. They added games on the fly, announcing two additions on Aug. 26 for games against Texas-San Antonio (Oct. 10) and Texas State (Oct. 24) and another addition on Sept. 14, after the season had begun, for a game against Louisiana Tech (Oct. 2). The Cougars are still trying to add games.

But Pac-12 officials needed six weeks, not counting the week they needed just to think about it.

Maybe they should call Tom Holmoe, the AD at BYU, and ask him how he did it.

By the time the Pac-12 starts the season, many teams will be in the homestretch of their schedule. BYU and Clemson, among others, will be playing their eighth game of the season.

The Pac-12 is getting left behind. Again. Their rival leagues have played through the early season rust and rounded into midseason form.

Which raises the question: Why should Pac-12 teams get the same consideration as the other leagues when it comes to bowl games and national rankings. Oregon is ranked No. 13 in the polls, USC No. 24, and they won’t play their opening game until Nov. 7. They’ll play only seven games.

It’s like joining a marathon at the 13-mile mark. Something is wrong with that.