Cal v. Arizona State Football Game Canceled Because of Covid-19

Golden Bears may need to start its football season on Nov. 21 in Corvallis, Ore.

The California Golden Bears may need to wait another week to begin their football season.

The scheduled matchup against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe, Ariz., on Nov. 14, has been canceled after the Sun Devils canceled practice Thursday because of Covid-19 issues.

“The Pac-12 has canceled the Cal at Arizona State football game scheduled for November 14. This decision was made under the Pac-12’s football game cancellation policy due to Arizona State not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game as a result of a number of positive football student-athlete Covid-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols,” the Pac-12 Conference confirmed in a prepared statement Friday morning.

Complicating matters, Arizona State also announced football head coach Herm Edwards tested positive for Covid-19, according to an ESPN report Friday morning.

California was ready to travel and play, according to reports Friday, even after an unnamed Golden Bear defensive lineman tested positive for Covid-19 last week.

The subsequent contact tracing required by the city of Berkeley placed many football players in quarantine, including the entire defensive line and other student-athletes, though California reports only one football player tested positive.

California Head Coach Justin Wilcox had expressed optimism earlier this week that his team would travel to play Arizona State. The football coach told Write for California and other media Tuesday the team held “really good” practices this week, albeit with the defensive-line group and other players absent.

The league declared the game a no contest after the Sun Devils failed to field a competitive roster.

The Pac-12 Conference game cancellation policy set a minimum threshold of at least 53 scholarship players and the following position players to start a game: one quarterback, four defensive linemen and seven offensive linemen.

Teams can play the game with fewer scholarship or position players, an option California chose not to exercise last week.

Last week, California canceled its season debut at home against the Washington Huskies after it failed to field a competitive roster, according to a statement from the Pac-12 Conference.

A public health emergency quarantine order issued by the Berkeley Public Health Division, the city’s public health agency which has no affiliation with the University of California, Berkeley, requires all individuals to quarantine for 14 days from the last date they were in close contact with a person infected with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The quarantine order issued this summer follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention best practices and applies to people exposed to a known Covid-19 case or infection, as the disease is known to be highly contagious.

Negative tests for Covid-19 do not allow someone to avoid self-quarantine if they had been in close contact, considered within six feet for more than 15 minutes, with someone diagnosed with or likely to have Covid-19. This is because the incubation period for Covid-19 could be as long as 14 days, and a negative Covid-19 test result does not mean someone is not carrying the novel coronavirus. False-negative test results are also possible.

California is not the only Pac-12 team whose football season has been affected by Covid-19.

Last week, the Stanford Cardinal began its season in Eugene, Ore., against the Oregon Ducks without quarterback Davis Mills, wide receiver Connor Wedington and defensive end Trey LaBounty because of Covid-19 testing results and contact tracing protocols.

But news emerged Friday morning that a Cardinal student-athlete may have had a false positive Covid-19 test then.

“During Pac-12 game day testing this past Saturday, there were testing protocol errors with respect to a Stanford student-athlete who tested positive for Covid-19,” the Pac-12 Conference said in a prepared statement. “Upon return to campus, Stanford, in communication with the Pac-12 Covid-19 Medical Advisory Committee, administered a daily PCR diagnostic testing cadence that has consistently shown that the student-athlete does not have Covid-19 and is thus cleared to resume practice and competition.”

Coach Wilcox did not confirm whether the university or the athletic department might be discussing alternative arrangements for the football season, including practice or room and board for Golden Bears outside of the city of Berkeley, to avoid lengthy quarantines in case of future positive Covid-19 cases on the team.

He said only: “As far as the football program is concerned, whatever we can do to help minimize or mitigate the spread of the virus and give us the chance to play, we are all for it.”

California may now start its football season on Nov. 21, at 12:30 p.m. PT in Corvallis, Ore., against the Oregon State Beavers. Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the game on national television.

The Golden Bears’ first home game is the 123rd Big Game, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 27, at 1 p.m. PT. The game will air on FOX.