The 2021 season made it to November before a game at the top level of college football was canceled due to COVID-19.
Cal and USC will not play Saturday because of COVID-19 cases at Cal. The Bears were without over 20 players in a 10-3 loss to Arizona in Week 10.
“It was a difficult decision to postpone this Saturday’s game against USC,” Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton said in a statement. “We know how important every one of our games is to our student-athletes, especially our seniors who have been incredible representatives of the program, but it was the right thing to do. Due to additional impact on specific position groups, we have decided to postpone Saturday’s game. We have had multiple COVID-19 positives within our program, and we are taking every step we can to mitigate the spread and protect the greater community.”
The Pac-12 announced on Tuesday night that the game had been rescheduled for Dec. 4, which is conference championship weekend.
Anyone in the city of Berkeley, California, is required to isolate for 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19 no matter their vaccination status. That 10-day window meant that anyone on the Cal team who had tested positive late in the week before the Arizona game would also be unable to play against USC.
“Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and that’s the situation we’re in,” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said after the Arizona loss when he was asked when the team found out it would be missing so many players. “And so we felt like if we could field a team we wanted to come down and compete and I thought that the guys competed extremely hard.”
Wilcox also said that Cal was very close to not being able to field a team against the Wildcats.
“Probably a couple of key positions, a couple of players at critical spots and we were under where you can’t field a starting 11,” he said.
The 2021 season had been much smoother than the 2020 season because of high vaccination rates in programs across the country. But Berkeley’s rules are some of the most stringent in the country when it comes to COVID-19 and were also a sticking point in 2020.
Cal QB Chase Garbers was one of the players who missed the game on Saturday and he said players didn’t get much information from city and university officials in a meeting on Monday night.
Like all other Power Five conferences, the Pac-12 announced before the season that any team unable to play a game would be required to forfeit. We’ll find out soon if the Pac-12 and USC will make it work to make sure the game is not a forfeit.
“Any forfeited contest shall be regarded as a conference loss for the team making the forfeit and a conference win for its opponent,” the conference said in a statement in August. “The Pac-12 rule provides the Commissioner with discretion to determine whether an institution is at fault or primarily at fault for an instability to play a contest based on the facts of the situation.”