Photo courtesy of California athletics

It’s not the best start for the Pac-12.

The league will play a 6-game schedule starting this upcoming Saturday. It will be without the Washington Huskies and the California Golden Bears in Week 1.

The game between the two, scheduled for Berkeley, will not be played. This is the result of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Golden Bears’ locker room. 

This comes after Cal did not have the minimum number of scholarship players to field a competitive roster. Positive tests and contact tracing were both factors in the reduced roster.

The game will not be made up due to the tight window to play. The two teams are now stuck with only five games. 

Reaction from the Golden Bears

Cal Athletics Director Jim Knowlton provided a statement: 

“The health and well-being of our student-athletes is always at the forefront of our decision making,” Knowlton said. “We have been diligent in the development and execution of our return-to-play plan, and our goal all along has been to provide a safe environment and to mitigate risk as much as possible. We know how much our team and the greater Cal Athletics community was looking forward to the start of the football season this weekend. While we are disappointed in our inability to play this week, we are confident that we have made the right decision. As we have seen across the country, we knew that there would be COVID-19 challenges, and we will continue to follow our protocols to support the health of our student-athletes.”

California head coach Justin Wilcox also weighed in on the matter:

“It is very disappointing that we will not be opening our 2020 season this Saturday night against Washington,” Wilcox said. “My heart goes out first and foremost to all of our players who have been through so much since the pandemic began and worked so hard under difficult circumstances to prepare themselves to play. They have done so well following the protocols that have been put in place, but as we are finding out first-hand, playing football during 2020 is a fragile situation.”

Reaction from Washington

Washington Athletics Director Jen Cohen added this: 

“Our students, coaches and staff have put in an incredible amount of hard work to get to this point and we are deeply disappointed they won’t have the opportunity to compete Saturday in Berkeley. I’m also disappointed for Husky Nation. They have been so patient and supportive, and we know they couldn’t wait to cheer on our Dawgs this weekend. With that said, the policies and protocols developed by the Pac-12, local and state officials placed the health and safety of students, coaches and staff at the forefront. We will now turn our attention to next week and start our preparations for Oregon State.”  

What’s Next?

The Huskies are coming off an 8-5 season in 2019 under Chris Petersen. Former defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake will have to wait another week to make his head coaching debut.

The Golden Bears also went 8-5 last season under Wilcox. California has had back-to-back winning seasons after losing campaigns in four of the previous five. California edged Washington in last season’s Pac-12 opener, 20-19.

As Cohen mentioned, the Huskies will return home next week against Oregon State. If the Golden Bears are able to play, they’ll travel to Tempe to face Arizona State next Saturday.