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Pandemic scheduling brews opportunity for the future of the Big 12

It’s a disappointing season ahead for a number of reasons, but the conference can make significant changes going forward.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JUL 15 Big 12 Media Days Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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As the start of the normal college football season draws closer, schools and conferences are still scrambling to put together a 2020 schedule. Wednesday, the Big Ten released conference-only schedules for all 14 teams. Other leagues have made similar decisions, or at least dramatically cut back on non-conference games. Fans, however, hope this is a one-year trend - certainly Tech fans, to boot. According to results from the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, more than half of NCAA football fans don’t want schedules to focus on conference games beyond this season.

While focusing on conference games was a relatively easy fix for most teams, not every school had that option. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, notoriously independent, instead came to an agreement with the ACC for the 2020 season. Notre Dame competes in the ACC for other sports, but has remained independent for football. This year, however, they have agreed to an ACC schedule. Nationally, fans hope this becomes the new reality going forward. More than two-thirds of fans said they hope Notre Dame stays in the ACC permanently.

ACC fans specifically were even more in favor of the concept, 88% of fans from ACC schools voted in favor. Notre Dame had long been linked to the Big Ten. But 59% of Big Ten fans are still in favor of the midwestern team staying in the ACC. On the other side of things, Notre Dame fans dramatically disagree. Nearly 90% of Notre Dame fans think the team should again be independent after this season. But what does this tell us about prominent independents abroad? It’s been fun speculating about BYU joining the Big 12 but it’s obvious that the conference isn’t making any real effort to absorb them nor do I believe BYU cares about joining any conference permanently anyway. They make a ton of money, they have their own network, and they have zero problems scheduling power fives.

The Big 12 is still waiting to publish a final conference schedule; leaving schools and fans waiting to see whether their first collegiate football game will be a month away or nearly two months. Regardless, of all the Power Five conferences the Big 12 has been most exposed in this recent move towards conference only scheduling. Two teams away from a the full acclaimed twelve schools (rip Colorado & Nebraska) gives the conference a stubborn issue of conference prominence and general strength of schedule.

One can hope that this season, and the undoubtable issues that will arise come playoff time, will apply some pressure to the conference leaders to make substantiated efforts towards filling out our conference with quality opponents.

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