Monday Grab Bag: Pandemic planning continues while Mr. Emmert goes to Washington

Plus: what do you want to read about before the season-in-question begins?

Last week, we spent time going over the NCAA’s recommendations for how member conferences and schools should handle COVID-19, both from a procedural standpoint and also when deciding whether or not competition can occur. I’m not going to provide weekly updates on the pandemic status around the Pac-12 footprint,* but I will do my best to keep you informed regarding school, conference, and NCAA decision making as the summer progresses.

*I think you all know there are better sources for that information that your various unwashed bloggers. Summary: things are real bad.

So what’s the latest? Well, despite week-over-week increases in cases and deaths, the NCAA and FBS football generally are pushing ahead in an attempt to have a season, with everybody behind the scenes praying for improved conditions come mid-September. You’re by now likely aware that the Pac-12 is expected to announce a 10 game conference-only schedule later this week that adds Arizona to Cal’s schedule. Or, more simply, Cal will play everybody BUT Colorado.

Meanwhile, the NCAA had a Board of Governors meeting on Friday. The ‘big’ announcement out of that meeting?

Today the Board of Governors and I agreed that we must continue to thoughtfully and aggressively monitor health conditions around the country and the implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines we issued last week. The health and well-being of college athletes is the highest priority in deciding whether to proceed with our 22 NCAA championships beginning in late November. We all remain deeply concerned about the infection trend lines we see. It is clear that the format of our championships will have to change if they are to be conducted in a safe and fair manner.  We discussed other complexities in addition to the health and safety impacts, to include team availability, travel limitations and various local and state restrictions. We will continue our discussions in August.

While a paragraph of platitudes doesn’t tell us anything, there’s not much the NCAA can do at this point. They’ve provided directions and procedures, now all we can do is wait to see what conditions are in September.

This Week in NCAA Obsolescence

The pandemic is obviously horrible news for the NCAA, but there is one small silver lining for the otherwise pointless entity: All of the COVID-19 news and fears of a lost season means that the NCAA’s pathetic attempt to lobby their way out of legal troubles isn’t getting nearly the attention it deserves.

Yep, last week Mark Emmert and the NCAA were in Washington, appearing in a congressional hearing about NCAA reform. Various representatives have been collaborating on legislation, generally modeled off of state-level legislation, that would functionally end amateurism. As we’ve discussed before, the NCAA has its own self-serving legislation they’d like to see passed. Last week’s hearing . . . didn’t go great for the NCAA:

When a Democrat from New Jersey and Republican from Utah are both against you, you may as well give up now.

But getting questioned under oath at a congressional hearing did lead to a few interesting tidbits of news from the NCAA’s leader:

Emmert acknowledged that he supports what’s called a “scholarship for life,” where athletes may later return to get their degrees. He also denounced COVID-19 waivers that some schools are requiring athletes to sign before they return to campus, calling them “inappropriate,” and he made clear his support for a proposal that allows athletes to transfer once without losing a year of eligibility.

None of those are shocking pieces of news, but the fact that the NCAA is willing to give up on those issues is an indication of the position of weakness the NCAA is bargaining from. They have been losing in court, in state and federal legislatures, and in the court of public opinion. Reform is a question of how and when, not if.

Meanwhile, for a final moment of levity, enjoy this statement from a South Carolina senator, who is evidently unfamiliar with how recruiting works in the SEC (and most everywhere else):

A question as we quickly approach August

Next Monday happens to be August 3rd. The first Monday in August is typically the date I target to begin previewing Cal football in earnest. Fall camp, unit previews, opponent previews, season projections, the whole enchilada.

Needless to say, this year is different. Most obviously, the season is hypothetically going to begin on September 19th, three weeks later than originally scheduled. Regardless of interest, the preview schedule will likely get modified to reflect the new season dates.

I’m planning to proceed as if football is going to happen, even though I’m personally pessimistic about our chances for something resembling a full season. Regardless, if there’s something you’re interested in reading more about, now’s the best time to let us know so that we can do the prep work. No promises, but this is a more relevant question than usual considering the extreme uncertainty we all face entering fall 2020.

And yes, I’ve already started pre-writing an article if the season gets cancelled. I really hope I don’t need to finish it.