An unprecedented situation required an unusual maneuver.
USC and UCLA sporting directors joined forces and held a joint Zoom call with Los Angeles County health officials Wednesday evening to pave the way for football teams to begin practicing, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
And it worked.
“It was encouraging,” a source said.
So encouraging that teams are gearing up for full-staff internships once Pac-12 presidents approve of that move, a move that could come as soon as Friday.
The development, in which Mike Bohn of USC and Martin Jarmond of UCLA teamed up to gain clarity from health authorities, is the latest significant development of the Pac-12’s collective push to play again. .
Earlier Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted state health restrictions that had prevented all four schools in California from conducting traditional practices. For example: cohorts of no more than 12 players.
The Newsom movement allows schools to deal directly with local authorities on safety protocols.
(Kate Brown of Oregon did the same for Oregon and Oregon State).
Sources said Los Angeles County officials indicated they would not prevent the Bruins and Trojans from practicing 11-11 with full contact.
The Rams and Chargers, based a few miles from the USC campus, have been practicing for weeks.
But the California Four’s freedom is not yet complete. Stanford and Cal have yet to work with their local officials (Santa Clara County and the city of Berkeley) to receive authorization.
Development in Los Angeles County could help facilitate the removal of restrictions in the bay area, as Covid-19 is more common in Southern California.
Pac-12 presidents will meet Friday and could approve a process back into the game, either by formal vote or by general consensus.
The focus of this discussion will be whether teams should wait for the rapid response antigen tests expected at the end of the month.
If teams start practicing later this month, the season could start on Halloween.
In addition, USC and UCLA have received approval for indoor athletic activity, sources said, a key step in the return of basketball.
The NCAA announced a start on Nov. 25 for the regular basketball season, which means Pac-12 teams will have to be on the court in late October to practice.
The clearance provided by LA County earlier this week should allow the Bruins and Trojans to achieve that goal.
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