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Report: Pac-12 revisiting possibility of allowing nonconference football games

In this Oct. 10, 2015, file photo, a Pac-12 logo is displayed on the field before a football game between Washington State and Oregon in Eugene, Ore.
Ryan Kang, Associated Press

The Pac-12 is reportedly set to reverse course and allow football teams to play nonconference games this fall if a conference game is canceled due to COVID-19 issues, The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner reported Wednesday morning.

So far, five league games have been canceled, including two involving Utah — the Utes’ matchup against Arizona (scheduled for Nov. 7) and at UCLA (Nov. 14).

Wilner reported that Pac-12 athletic directors have agreed to allow nonconference games to happen if games are canceled due to COVID-19, but the plan needs approval from league presidents and chancellors. The presidents discussed the possibility of allowing nonconference games Tuesday, Wilner reported, but it’s unknown if a vote was taken on the issue.

During the first week of the Pac-12 season, which kicked off the weekend of Nov. 7, two conference games were canceled. Two more were canceled last week (though the league scheduled two teams involved in those cancellations, UCLA and Cal, to play each other), and the Arizona State-Colorado game this week has also been canceled, as Arizona State deals with an COVID-19 outbreak in its program.

This comes days after Pac-12 Associate Commissioner for Football Operations Merton Hanks told ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura the league “will certainly take a look, I’d imagine,” at allowing some nonconference games.

If the Power Five league ultimately allows nonconference games, one option for conference teams could be to add BYU to their schedule. The No. 8 Cougars, off to an 8-0 start, play FCS North Alabama on Saturday, but have only one scheduled game — Dec. 12 against San Diego State — after that. BYU’s original 2020 schedule — before COVID-19 issues forced revised schedules around the country — included three Pac-12 opponents: Utah, Arizona State and Stanford.