Big 12 announces 10-game schedule plan that allows for 1 nonconference home game
By Ralph D. Russo
Aug 03, 2020 at 8:58 PM
Big 12 schools agreed Monday night to play one nonconference football game this year to go with their nine conference games as plans for the pandemic-altered season continued to fall into place.
The Big 12′s university presidents signed off on a 10-game schedule, adjusted to deal with potential disruptions from COVID-19, that gives schools the ability to play one nonconference opponent at home.
A specific start date for conference play was not determined. The conference said in a news release it likely will begin in mid- to late September and the expectation is nonconference games would be completed before conference play starts.
“We believe this change provides the best opportunity going forward,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “However, we will undoubtedly need to be flexible as we progress through the season in order to combat the challenges that lie ahead.”
The Big 12 championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is scheduled for Dec. 5 but could be moved back to Dec. 12 or 19, the conference announced. Dec. 19 could pose a scheduling conflict with high school football championships at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium and force the Big 12 to relocate.
The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power Five conferences that have switched to either exclusively (Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) or mostly (ACC) conference games this season, the Big 12 could not add more conference games without teams playing each other more than once.
Several Big 12 teams have already started preseason practice, with Kansas (vs. Illinois State) and Oklahoma (vs. Missouri State) slated to play FCS teams on Aug. 29. Whether those games remain on that date is unclear.
As conferences take steps toward a football season that seems to be in precarious shape, the NCAA is expected to weigh in Tuesday on fall sports other than major college football.
The association’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet, and whether to cancel or postpone NCAA championship events in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower-division football is expected to be a topic.
Less than two weeks ago, conference commissioners across Division I encouraged the the board to delay any decision on fall championships. The NCAA does not control regular-season competition in any sport — and it has no say at all in major college football — but canceling or postponing fall events could send a conflicting message as member schools try to move forward with a fall season despite concerns about the number of COVID-19 cases around much of the country.
The Power Five conferences have billions in television revenue at stake in their ability to stage a football season, and they have decided independently the best way forward is to focus on conference play.
Though there are still plenty of details to work out.
Only the Pac-12 has a full football schedule with matchups and dates in place among Power Five conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, as will the SEC, which still is working on its new 10-game slate.
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The ACC has opponents set for its 10-game conference schedule and will start the weekend of Sept. 12, but no specific game dates are set. The ACC has also said it will permit its teams to play one nonconference game.
The Big Ten, first to announce its intention to go conference-only this season, has yet to release a new schedule, but that could come later this week.
Now that the Power Five has declared its intentions, the Group of Five conferences can start making plans and filling holes on their schedules.
American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the AAC could stick with its eight-game conference schedule and let its members play as many of their four nonconference games as they can salvage or replace.
The Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are likely to take a similar approach.
Early Monday, Texas State of the Sun Belt announced it was moving up a nonconference game against SMU of the AAC from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29.