The Big 12's athletic directors were split Friday while meeting to recommend which scheduling model the conference should use in a 2020 season that remains in flux amid the coronavirus pandemic. The conference is currently considering two primary options: a complete 12-game season or a 10-game schedule including one nonconference opponent, several league sources tell CBS Sports.
In the 12-game model, the Big 12 would play its nine league opponents in its traditional round-robin format along with three nonconference opponents. In the 10-game model, it is believed the Big 12 would play its conference schedule along with one nonconference game that would take place before the league slate begins, likely on Sept. 19 or Sept. 26.
The SEC and Pac-12 announced this week that they are starting their 10-game, conference-only seasons in the traditional Week 4 on Sept. 26. The ACC, which will play a 10-game conference with one nonconference opponent, will begin its schedule in the traditional Week 2 on Sept. 12. The Big Ten has announced that it will play a 10-game conference-only schedule like the SEC and Pac-12, though it has not released any additional information about its season.
Big 12 athletic directors spoke Friday afternoon on a conference call. Their formal recommendations will be forwarded to the league's presidents for further discussion. That presidents meeting is set for Monday.
"I think we're probably headed down a pathway of nine plus one," a Big 12 official told CBS Sports earlier Friday.
Sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
The Big 12 will be the last Power Five conference to finalize its number of games. The conference is also considering a nine-game conference-only schedule.
"It has become a process of elimination," that Big 12 official said.
While the Big 12 is reluctant to eliminate playing 12 games, the 10-game model "makes the most sense," another league source said.
"Our scientists and medical personnel haven't told us playing 12 is a bad idea," commissioner Bob Bowlsby previously said.
If the Big 12 goes with a conference-only schedule, it would play the fewest games (nine) of any Power Five league. That could potentially leave the conference at a competitive disadvantage in regard to the College Football Playoff.
There are no Power Five nonconference opponents left on any Big 12 schedule due to cancellation decisions made by other conferences. Oklahoma (vs. Missouri State) and Kansas (vs. Southern Illinois) are scheduled to begin their seasons in Week 0 on Aug. 29.
A season that begins that week would leave the Big 12 a significant amount of time -- 16 weeks -- to play either a 12- or 10-game schedule if the conference championship game is pushed back to Dec. 19 as the SEC and Pac-12 have already done.
"To come back here and say we may not be missing games, we may be foolish thinking that," West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons previously said.
Delaying the start of the season might allow time for teams to adjust to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The SEC moved its start to Sept. 26 because its experts projected that the coronavirus spike again around Labor Day, league sources tell CBS Sports.
The Sept. 26 start date to play 10 conference games that was adopted by the SEC and Pac-12 builds in two open weeks for each conference -- one in the middle of the season and another on Dec. 12 -- to allow for postponed games to be made up.
"Earlier this week we were saying, 'Why not play 12 games?'" Lyons said. "But then the question comes out, 'If everybody can't play 12 but you get your nine [conference games], who cares?'"