SALT LAKE CITY — These are uncertain times for Pac-12 football. Like most sports, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll and produced more questions than answers.

It’s already led to the Pac-12’s scrapping of nonconference games in 2020. For the Utah Utes, that means BYU (Sept. 3), Montana State (Sept. 12) and Wyoming (Sept. 19) are off the schedule.

“We’ve got to proceed as if we’re going to play and then if things change we’ll change with whatever the new scenario is. But we’ve got to go in with the premise that there’s going to be a season until someone tells us differently.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham

Details for a conference-only format are expected to be announced by July 31. There’s speculation that the Pac-12 will add one league game to the schedule in order to allow for each team to have an even split of five at home and five on the road. The conference currently uses a scheduling rotation of nine conference games each year. Oregon and Stanford are the teams Utah wasn’t originally slated to play this season.

In addition to scheduling changes, the Pac-12 CEO Group (presidents and chancellors) also opted to delay mandatory activities for student-athletes “until a series of health and safety indicators, which have recently trended in a negative direction, provided sufficient positive data to enable to move to a second phase of return-to-play activities.”

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who tested positive for the coronavirus, has reiterated that the No, 1 priority is the health and safety of the student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports. He noted that decisions will be guided by science and data.

The conference’s recruiting footprint has also been compromised. High school governing bodies in California and Texas (large schools) are opting to delay the start of football the season.

Other changes to the norm include the postponement of Pac-12 football media day. The traditional summer event (a planned virtual gathering this year because of the pandemic) is loaded with discussion about preseason polls and such. It’s a kickoff, of sorts.

Now, there’s very little to talk about in that regard. Wait-and-see is the order of the day.

“It’s certainly been challenging. We don’t know for sure what’s in store for the season — if there’s going to be a season, if it’s going to be moved to spring,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “There’s still so many unknowns that all we can do is work with what the NCAA allows us to do at the current time and right now we’re just moving into the mandatory eight hours per week lifting/conditioning/meeting phase.”

That began Monday. Whittingham noted that the current climate and situation is all they can worry about, not trying to predict or project what’s ahead.

“Because I don’t think anybody knows. I really don’t. I don’t think there’s anybody who knows exactly how things are going to shake out, ” Whittingham added. “And so, that being said, we’re just going with the flow.”

New Utah quarterback Jake Bentley considered one of top transfers in the nation
‘It’s a selling point’: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham admits getting players to the NFL helps with recruiting
College football may need a medical miracle to save the 2020 season

The Utes, in the meantime, are transitioning to mandatory workouts and trying to maximize all that the NCAA allows at this time.

“We’ve got to proceed as if we’re going to play and then if things change we’ll change with whatever the new scenario is,” Whittingham said. “But we’ve got to go in with the premise that there’s going to be a season until someone tells us differently.”

Whittingham added that the Pac-12’s decision to play a conference-only schedule provides the league with some flexibility. He said when you have nonconference games, trying to coordinate moving the start date of the season and changing things around is almost impossible to do, if not impossible.

“But if you just go to a conference-only schedule then you have complete autonomy within that schedule to do what you need to do without trying to coordinate several other moving parts at the same time,” Whittingham explained. “I think that was really the only alternative right now. I think that seems to be the only way they can possibly work.”

Proposals have been made for Pac-12 teams to play nine or 10 games in the revamped schedule. Things seem to be headed toward the latter, Whittingham acknowledged, because the model provides a balance of home and road games.