The Rocky Mountain Showdown is still toast, but the Karl Dorrell Era finally has a start date. And it’s the latest opening week for a CU football season in nearly 60 years.
The Buffs are slated to begin the season Sept. 26 at defending conference champion Oregon, according to a schedule released Friday by the Pac-12.
CU’s revised Week 1 is the first of a compressed, conference-only 10-game dance card that features three road games in the first four weeks. The Buffs were originally to begin Dorrell’s debut campaign against the Rams in Fort Collins on Sept. 5, and set to host Oregon on the same Saturday they are now playing in Eugene, Ore.
The conference is permitting teams to begin camp Aug. 17, as long as local health guidelines permit. The schools will then get to choose how to allocate its 25 practice days prior to the Sept. 26 openers.
“It’s not my expectation that everyone will start or manage their 25 the same way,” commissioner Larry Scott said during a video teleconference with reporters.
The Showdown was one of several non-conference matchups that were canceled July 10 when the Pac-12 decreed it was scrapping its original football schedules in favor of league-only games because of summer coronavirus spikes. League officials argued that intraconference games would provide more uniform safety protocols during the pandemic while also allowing for scheduling flexibility in the case of widespread COVID-19 outbreaks.
The primary logistical concern for CU and Pac-12 administrators is being played out right now in Major League Baseball — which, like college football, is trying to conduct a season with road trips and without a self-contained, bubble environment like in the NBA and NHL.
The New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals have all seen games relocated or postponed in recent days. Many of those alterations were forced by a reported outbreak of positive tests within the Marlins clubhouse.
“There is no bubble, and a bubble would not be appropriate in college sports,” Scott said.
Guarding against the risk of an outbreak that could require adjustments similar to MLB, the league scheduled a bye week into CU’s 2020 calendar, which falls on Oct. 24. All 12 teams will see its byes fall between weeks four-through-six (Oct. 17-31).
In order to maintain maximum flexibility on the back end, the Pac-12 championship game is set to be played at a campus site (instead of Las Vegas) on Dec. 19 — giving the conference Saturday, Dec. 12, as an available date for makeup games.
Athletic director Rick George previously said the Buffs would attempt to have socially distant fans inside Folsom Field for Buffs home games, which include matchups with Utah (Oct. 3), Arizona State (Oct. 31), UCLA (Nov. 14), Oregon State (Nov. 28) and Washington State (Dec. 5). Those plans could include ticketless seating to minimize contact between fans, players and staff, but nothing has been made public.
Television broadcast selections have yet to be determined, leaving game times to be established sometime in the future. The Buffs are guaranteed of at least one night game — a Friday night trip to Washington on Nov. 6 that will be televised on ESPN.
The Buffs last opened a season on the last weekend of September in 1961, when CU hosted Oklahoma State on Sept. 30. The program hadn’t scheduled an opener later than Sept. 11 since 1987, when CU hosted Oregon — then a non-league game, as the Buffs were members of the Big Eight Conference at the time — on Sept. 12 of that year.
CU Buffs 2020 football schedule
|Saturday||Sept. 26||at Oregon|
|Saturday||Oct. 10||at Arizona|
|Saturday||Oct. 17||at Southern Cal|
|Saturday||Oct. 31||Arizona State|
|Friday||Nov. 6||at Washington|
|Saturday||Nov. 21||at Stanford|
|Saturday||Nov. 28||Oregon State|
|Saturday||Dec. 5||Washington State|
|Saturday||Dec. 19||Pac-12 Championship at campus site|
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