An unprecedented situation required an unusual maneuver.
The athletic directors at USC and UCLA teamed up and held a joint Zoom call with health officials in Los Angeles County Wednesday night to clear a path for football teams to begin training, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
And it worked.
“It was encouraging,” said one source.
So encouraging that teams are preparing to implement full-fledged practice once Pac-12 presidents approve this step, a move that may come as soon as Friday.
The development – where USC’s Mike Bohn and UCLA’s Martin Jarmond joined forces to get clarity from the health authorities ̵
Earlier Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the state health restrictions that had prevented the four California schools from carrying out traditional practices. For example: cohorts of up to 12 players.
Newsom’s movement allows schools to deal directly with local authorities on security protocols.
(Oregon’s Kate Brown did the same for Oregon and Oregon State.)
Sources said LA County officials said they would not stand in the way of the Browns and Trojan horses practicing 11 to 11 fashion with full contact.
Rams and Chargers, based just a few miles from USC’s campus, have been practicing for weeks.
But the freedom of the California Four is not yet complete. Stanford and Cal still have to work with their local officials – Santa Clara County and Berkeley City – to get approval.
Developments in Los Angeles County could help ease the lifting of restrictions in the Bay Area, as Covid-19 is more prevalent in Southern California.
The Pac-12 presidents meet on Friday and could approve a return-to-play process, either by formal vote or general consensus.
Central to this discussion will be whether the teams should wait for the antigen tests with rapid response expected at the end of the month.
If the teams start practicing late this month, the season could begin on Halloween.
In addition, USC and UCLA have received approval for indoor athletic activity, sources say, an important step in the return of basketball.
The NCAA announced a start on Nov. 25 for basketball’s normal season, meaning Pac-12 teams must be on the field by the end of October to practice.
The approval provided by LA County earlier this week should allow the Bruins and Trojans to hit that target.
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