The Big 12 is in a wait-and-see mode for the upcoming college football season. With the Big Ten and Pac-12 moving to conference-only schedules and the ACC and SEC still exploring options, the Big 12 has been mostly tight-lipped about its plans for 2020. It would appear those plans include holding on for as long as possible with the intention of playing a full, 12-game regular season.
In an interview with Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman, Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec shared that Big 12 presidents "generally want to play a full 12-game season" and are "comfortable waiting two more weeks and maybe longer before making any definitive decisions." Schovanec added that presidents are also willing to let preseason camp begin on Aug. 7, as scheduled.
"We still have time," Schovanec told the Statesman. "So at what point do we have to make a decision? We haven't gotten there yet. But I also think we recognize the fact that if we get to a go/no-go point [we'll] be prepared to act very quickly and pivot on a dime."
The Big 12 may feel like it has five more minutes, but it doesn't have much more than that. Already, the pressure to decide the fate of fall sports is resulting in numerous cancellations among the lower level conferences. Meanwhile, West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, the chair of the NCAA's Football Oversight Committee, sent a letter last week to the NCAA's Board of Governors asking them to delay a decision on canceling fall sports championships. The NCAA's Board is set to meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 4, with the ACC's Board of Governor's scheduled to meet the following day. Though the NCAA's direction would have no literal bearing on what the Power Five does, it would set an example and potentially put those conferences in a tough spot.
Still, the Big 12 is looking to keep its full schedule and not necessarily at pushing anything back. In fact, Oklahoma is moving its season start date up to Aug. 29 against Missouri State. The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 5, allowing the Sooners an extra week to compensate for any disruptions due to COVID-19.
Speaking with ESPN's Heather Dinich, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby added that the SEC is also hoping to keep all 12 games. A "plus one" scenario featuring a standard conference slate and a single nonconference matchup between the SEC and ACC is also still on the table. But, with so many potential complications in fielding a season in the middle of a pandemic, Bowlsby admitted that schedules from conference to conference don't have to be identical in the end.
"They're still looking to play the 12-game schedule and so are we," Bowlsby said. "Obviously if one of us would make the decision to go to conference-only, that would affect the others. I'm guessing we would get some advance notice on that, but nobody has made that decision yet -- at least not among the [SEC, ACC or Big 12]."
You don't have to read the tea leaves to know that the Big 12 -- and, likely, the ACC and SEC -- are trying to have as normal of a season as humanly possible given the circumstances. In practice, this would be achieved by expanding the number of weeks of the season to accommodate any reschedules.
But it's also clear that 2020 is anything but normal and the extra time in a holding pattern doesn't ensure there will be a return to normalcy, try as decision-makers might.