It looks like University of Washington football will not, in fact, be kicking off Nov. 7 on the road against Cal.
According to recent news from the Pac-12, its Friday matchup with Cal is cancelled a day before it was set to start. In its statement, the conference states that California did not reach the threshold of minimum scholarship players available to play, so they requested that the game be ruled a no contest. What would’ve been the first game of both teams’ seasons is now void. UW had no role in this cancellation, it would seem.
The Pac-12’s statement, in full:
"“The Pac-12 has approved a request from Cal to cancel the Washington at Cal football game scheduled for November 7. This decision was made under the Pac-12’s football game cancellation policy due to Cal not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game as a result of a positive football student-athlete COVID-19 case and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols. Under Conference policy, the game will be declared a no contest. The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 football programs will continue to be our number one priority.”"
Literally an hour before this news broke, Jimmy Lake was confident about the prospects of the game happening despite some rumblings.
“Everything we’ve heard is the game is on,” he said to the media on a zoom call. “Right now we just had a great practice and we’re ready to travel to Berkeley and go get a first victory.”
It’s unclear whether he was just being optimistic and oblivious or not simply disclosing what was really going on, but given UW’s lack of a role in the cancellation regardless, he probably was not informed as actively by the conference and Cal in regards to what was going on.
Instead, it looks like the Huskies will start the season seven days later against Oregon State, who at that point will have already played Washington State at home. Either way, a chance to start the season against the team picked No. 2 in the north in the preseason would’ve likely been the game Huskies fans would’ve preferred. At least the Huskies won’t have to travel down to Berkeley anymore, and won’t have to travel as far against the Beavers.
Losing a game this early isn’t the worst-case scenario; it was always understood that things like this were going to happen during any successful season. But it does complicate an already extremely condensed Pac-12 race. What if no other teams miss or cancel games due to COVID? The likelihood of that happening is unclear, but with so few games already, things could get weird.
For Husky fans upset about this being the Huskies’ third opener cancelled (Michigan, Stanford, now Cal) — just remember that it happened to Houston four times, cancelling every game they had for the month of September. It could always be worse.