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Sports >  WSU football

Pat Chun: Washington State taking ‘day by day’ approach, but right now ‘all systems go’ to play at USC Sunday

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 3, 2020

Washington State athletic director Pat Chun watches the second half of an NCAA college basketball game between Washington State and Oregon State in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.   (Associated Press)
Washington State athletic director Pat Chun watches the second half of an NCAA college basketball game between Washington State and Oregon State in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.  (Associated Press)

The regional stay-home order revealed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday could take effect in the next few days, but as of now, Washington State’s football game at USC on Sunday doesn’t appear to be in grave danger as a result of the state’s new health and safety measures.

Newsom’s directive will be triggered if a region’s hospital ICU capacity dips below 15%. Newsom said Thursday he expects Southern California to reach that threshold “in the next day or two.”

It’s unclear if the order applies to college and professional sports in California, or to what extent, but it seems as though it won’t impact Sunday’s game between the Cougars (1-1) and Trojans (3-0).

WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun spoke on the phone with his USC counterpart, Mike Bohn, on Thursday, hours before appearing on the weekly coaches radio show.

He left the conversation with the Trojans’ athletic director optimistic about the Cougars’ chances of playing football on the heels of a two-week hiatus.

“I think we were all a little worried about any type of restrictions that might come up last-minute in the state of California, but it’s all systems go,” Chun told play-by-play broadcaster Matt Chazanow. “We’re prepared to leave Saturday for a 4:30 kickoff on Sunday.”

COVID-19 issues prevented WSU from playing games against Stanford and Washington. Provided the Cougars can make it through the next three days without registering more positive tests, they should be clear on that front.

WSU had nine players in COVID-19 protocol before it was supposed to play Stanford on Nov. 21. It’s possible there were more in the week that followed.

Last week, Chun said 12 WSU athletes were in the protocol, having either tested positive or come into contact with someone who did, but he didn’t specify if the three others were from the football team.

There are eight football players in COVID-19 protocol, but that number should be down to five by Friday.

“By the time we’re on the plane Saturday, we project less than five,” Chun said. “But this is a day-to-day thing.

“I don’t want to get anybody – COVID doesn’t pick and choose who it hits and we have rigorous testing protocols in place and they work. Because I look back at Stanford and it stinks we weren’t able to play, but the reality is our systems work and if we would’ve got on that plane, who knows what would’ve happened with the positives that came out.”

WSU’s COVID-19 issues and restrictions in the state of California account for only two of the obstacles that will need to be overcome in order for a game to take place on Sunday. The Trojans have also dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak and both teams agreed to move the game from Friday to Sunday in order to give USC a better chance of playing.

“We’ve got great news over the last three days,” USC coach Clay Helton said Thursday. “We’ve had five rounds of testing in the last three days and glad to say we’ve had all negative tests for our players. So, we’re really trending in the right direction.”

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