The Pac-12’s first scheduled week of football games has not gone according to plan. First, the Washington-Cal game (set for 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN) was canceled Thursday due to positive COVID-19 tests at Cal, then the Arizona-Utah game (set for 3:30 p.m. Eastern Saturday) on ESPN2 was canceled Friday over positive COVID-19 tests at Utah. Here’s the conference statement on that:
Statement regarding Saturday's Arizona at Utah #Pac12FB game: pic.twitter.com/W9fLZia1H1
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) November 6, 2020
“A number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases” isn’t terribly specific, but as Josh Newman of The Salt Lake Tribune wrote Thursday, the Utes have declined to reveal when their athletes test positive:
“We won’t divulge that, that’s just how we operate,” Whittingham said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters when asked specifically if Utah would divulge who will not be playing Saturday due to a positive COVID test. “There’s no reason to divulge who’s playing and who’s not. When we get to the point where we’re like the NFL and you have to make an injury report, then we’ll have to do that, but it makes no sense to divulge anything more than you need to.”
…Utah athletic director Mark Harlan has willingly taken on the weight of the decision not to make positive results public, but his athletic department has done what has been asked of it by reporting test results to the appropriate local and state health authorities.
“That’s me, I’ll own that decision,” Harlan said during a late-July Zoom call. “What I feel is most important in this matter is that we follow all the university and county and state guidelines as it relates to our testing. So any results, positive, negative, we send on to the proper authorities, and I believe that’s our obligation. I just don’t believe our student-athletes should be singled out in the population for positives and negatives, and we’ve rolled in that direction.”
So it’s unclear how many players have actually tested positive (Utah has been doing daily antigen testing on all players, plus PCR cotton swab testing on 20 percent of the football roster each day) and how many are out thanks to contact tracing. Jon Wilner of The Mercury News (San Jose) tweeted that this is about more than one positive case, and that the Utes’ scheduled game against UCLA next Friday may also be in danger:
To clarify: Utes have players with quarantine, but it's not like the Cal situation where 1 positive case forced a cancellation b/c entire position group in quarantine
— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) November 6, 2020
At any rate, it’s definitely interesting to see a second Pac-12 game canceled, and to see number of available scholarship players again cited (that was the case with the Cal cancelation as well). We’ll see what’s ahead for Utah and if they’re able to play at UCLA on Nov. 13.
[Pac-12 on Twitter; photo of Utah coach Kyle Whittingham from Nov. 30, 2019, from Jeffrey Swinger/USA Today Sports]