Pac-12 details plan for cancellations, tiebreakers in truncated season

The Pac-12 on Monday announced its policies for game cancellations and updated tiebreakers for its season, which begins on Nov. 7 and features a seven-game, conference-only schedule and conference championship game.

Teams will need at least 53 available scholarship players in order to play a game, including seven offensive linemen, one quarterback and four defensive linemen. With a truncated schedule made up of the fewest games of any of the Power 5 conferences, the Pac-12 tiebreakers factor in the number of games each team will play -- assuming there will be some pandemic-related disruptions and some teams will have unbalanced conference schedules.

According to the news release, in order for teams to be considered in a divisional tiebreak scenario, they must play no less than one game less than the average number of league games played by everyone in the Pac-12. For example, if everyone in the league plays an average of 5.25 games, a team would be eligible to win its division if it plays at least four games.

The winner of each division will be determined by the best winning percentage within the conference. If any team has not played six conference games, and any team is within one conference win from the team with the highest conference winning percentage and has an equal number of losses, those teams will be considered tied.

There are eight tiebreakers, but the conference would first resort to these three in cases of both two-team ties and ties among three teams or more:

  • Head-to-head results

  • Record in games played within the division

  • Record against the next highest-placed team in the division, proceeding through the division

In the event that the average number of conference games falls to four or below, the two teams with the best winning percentage (both divisional and cross-divisional) within the conference will participate in the conference championship game.

The Pac-12 also released specific guidelines to determine when a game should be rescheduled or declared a no-contest in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the news release, cancellations or postponements will occur if there is an inability to isolate new positive cases within a team or an athletic department or to quarantine high-risk contacts. A game would also be in jeopardy if tests aren't available, or if there is an inability to perform the tests under conference guidelines. The circumstances surrounding community spread could also impact games, if transmission rates are deemed unsafe by local public health officials, or there is an inability to perform contact tracing consistent with government requirements. If local public health officials of the home team state determine the hospital infrastructure can't accommodate a surge, it could also impact a game.

The Pac-12 conference championship game is scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 18-19, along with a full slate of league games for all teams.