Early Monday morning, reports have surfaced that the Big Ten decided to cancel their football season due to concerns brought up by the Coronavirus pandemic. With an official statement expected to be released on Tuesday, the ball seems to be in the hands of other Power Five conferences, especially the Big 12. It has been reported by ESPN’s Trey Wingo that the Big 12 is expected to hold a conference call within the next day or two about what they want to do about football this fall.
Sources: Big 12 having a conference call within next 24-48 hours to try and figure out how/if they can proceed with college sports in the fall. Football the big kahuna... and if it isn’t played how can they proceed or think about any other sports— trey wingo (@wingoz) August 10, 2020
Personally, as someone who has remained optimistic that we will see football happen this fall, I think that the Big 12 will ultimately decided to play on along with the SEC and ACC. But, there is a strong reality that this isn’t possible because of the medical concerns brought up mainly with travel and overall social distancing. As fall camps proceed, an article from CBS 11 in Lubbock , published on August 6th has reported that there have been no positives after 168 athletes were tested. Of course, an unfortunate circumstance is that campuses could see another outbreak with school starting back up in two weeks which can impact how fall sports plan to operate and play a full season.
To me, there are four options that the Big 12 could see fit in order to ensure that teams can take the field at some point. The first is delaying the season to the spring, two FCS conferences, the Big Sky and Missouri Valley Football conference has already voted to push the season back to the spring. This is probably the sexy option because it gives the chance for teams to play a full 12-game schedule, with fans in the stands, spanning from February to late March or early April with bowl season and the College Football Playoff taking place the rest of April and the beginning of May. A second option is inviting other teams from another conference to play on a one-year membership, talk of the Big 12 recruiting programs like Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska has been swirling in the rumor mills. Along with rumors that the SEC has been trying to talk the Big 12 and ACC into playing this fall, and even bringing some teams with them on a one-year membership. The third option is already one that is in place but could use a slight modification. Tech is already scheduled to play ten games, one out of conference and going right into conference play. But, they could scrap that one game and play conference only. The final option can be a little tough but I think it could work. Let’s say the conference can be geography-based, limiting the amount of travel and recreating the Big 12 North and South divisions, with only conference play taking place. In the North we would see BYU and Nebraska join in with Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and West Virginia making each division six teams each. Bringing the South to look like Tech, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor.
If I’m Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby, I’m either going with option one or option four. Option four allows teams to play an 11 week schedule with 10 games and one bye week and limit travel with shorter plane rides and shorter hotel stays. Option one does still seem like the better option because while the conference and universities will lose money in the fall, the money will quickly be made back because it could allow for fans to return to stadiums across the conference and the country as a whole. Looks like we’ll see in the next couple days.