The Pac-12 came dangerously close to not playing football this fall. Even when the conference announced its deal with Quidel Corp. back in September for daily antigen tests, the news did not automatically mean a return.
In fact, the public plea from USC players was the tipping point for a return to the field. Those players directed their comments at California Governor Gavin Newsom, which proved to be a wise move in getting something done.
According to a Hotline investigation by Jon Wilner of The Mercury News, the Pac-12 “had made little progress” towards a return in the days following the news of daily antigen tests. Almost a dozen days had passed, and there wasn’t much movement on playing football before Thanksgiving — or at all in 2020.
The report by Wilner reveals that basketball was the focal point of any talks to return, not football. The state’s restrictions to prevent California teams from practicing were still in full swing with no end in sight.
But Trojan players went after someone they knew could do something about it, and they did so publicly. The team wrote a letter to Newsom, and some of the biggest names on the roster started to push it. Star quarterback Kedon Slovis was one of those players:
@gavinnewsom We have sat by for two weeks watching teams across the country play the game we love safely. Most schools have a fraction of the resources that our school and conference have provided to play safely. You are the only thing holding us back. Please #LetUsPlay . pic.twitter.com/au4JZ5PNbz
— Kedon Slovis (@Kedonslovis) September 15, 2020
The investigation by Wilner is worth the read. He does a fantastic job breaking down how the events transpired over time, and the timeline is easy to follow.
At the end of the day, all Pac-12 fans owe USC players like Slovis some appreciation. It wasn’t popular to call out the California governor publicly, but it was effective.
And now the Pac-12 gets to play football as a result.
While reading Wilner’s timeline, however, make sure to pay attention to the difficulties and delays throughout the process of trying to get major college football to return out West. It is enough to make someone wonder.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.