UCLA went from having its football home opener canceled to getting a different opponent and date in about a 90-minute span Friday.
The Pac-12 Conference announced the cancellation of Saturday’s planned UCLA-Utah game at 12:08 p.m. At 1:36 p.m., the conference announced the Bruins would face California in a game to begin at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Rose Bowl and be televised by cable’s FS1.
The UCLA-Utah game was canceled because the Utes did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available due to COVID-19.
The Pac-12 announced at 9 a.m. the cancellation of Saturday’s California at Arizona State game. The Sun Devils did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available as the result of a number of positive COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of other players under contact tracing protocols.
UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond called the change of opponents “an unconventional solution in an unconventional year.”
The Pac-12 also announced that the UCLA at Oregon game, originally scheduled for next Friday, would instead be played the following day.
The Pac-12 has established minimum thresholds to play a game. A team must have at least 53 scholarship players available to play, including at least seven offensive linemen, one quarterback and four defensive linemen.
Utah did not meet those thresholds because of a number of positive COVID-19 cases among players and the resulting isolation of additional players under contact tracing protocols.
“Our community is especially hard-hit right now by this virus, and our team and our department have been doing everything possible to follow protocols and avoid the spread of the virus,” said Mark Harlan, Utah’s athletic director.
“We were doing very well, day-by-day, and it is extremely difficult for our student-athletes and coaches that they will not be able to compete again this week,” he said.
The UCLA-Utah game was initially scheduled for Friday but rescheduled for Saturday after the Pac-12 granted Utah’s request to change the date.
This was the Utes’ second cancellation of the coronavirus-delayed and shortened Pac-12 season. Their planned season opener last Saturday against Arizona was canceled one day before it was to be played because the Utes did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available.
The UCLA-California game will be the Golden Bears’ season opener. Their planned season opener against Washington was canceled because they did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available.