SALT LAKE CITY — When the Pac-12 CEO Group meets Thursday, a lengthy Utah football streak weighs in the balance.

The Utes have played games each year since 1919. The run, which began after a lost season because of World War I and the Spanish flu, faced an end when the conference announced a postponement this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the decision in August, though, the situation began to change. The addition of rapid COVID-19 testing, the easing of local health code restrictions and the fact that every other Power Five conference has decided to play this season prompted Pac-12 leaders to revisit the issue. They discussed it last Friday before ultimately deciding to meet again this week.

What the presidents and chancellors will do is hard to predict. However, there’s mounting speculation that they are going to allow falls sports to begin much earlier than the previously announced start date of Jan. 1.

What that means for football remains to be seen. Given a preference for six weeks of preparation and the incorporation of rapid COVID-19 tests, it may be too late to merit serious consideration — at least in terms of number of games played — for the College Football Playoff, which plans to announce its participants on Dec. 20.

While other conferences hit the field, clock is ticking on the Pac-12

Reports have the Pac-12 kicking things off on Oct. 31 or Nov. 7. The latter would give the conference time for just seven games, and that includes a title game on Dec. 19. There’s also no wiggle room in the case of a cancellation because of the coronavirus.

Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group is covering the situation closely. Via Twitter, he noted the presidents want everything to be nice and neat when votes are cast. However, there may be some uncertainty because of evolving guidelines on cohorts.

“The #Pac12 has the votes to play,” Wilner tweeted on Wednesday morning. “That’s not the issue.” 

Wilner explained that issues include getting the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors aligned o the start date — staggered on Oct. 31 or altogether on Nov. 7. A second issue is whether contingencies are attached to the recent approval of public health officials in California and Oregon.

Oregonian columnist John Canzano sent out a tweet confirming that a Pac-12 source said the top line agenda discussion for the Pac-12 CEO Group Thursday is whether teams can safely play on Oct. 31. Canzano added it “could result in a handful of universities essentially getting a bye week on the front end.”

University of Utah officials declined to comment in advance of the meeting.