The annual college football rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas will still be played at the storied Cotton Bowl, despite the State Fair of Texas being canceled for 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Though an announcement from the event on Tuesday said that "there is no feasible way for the Fair to put proper precautions in place while maintaining the Fair environment you know and love," athletic directors Chris Del Conte of Texas and Joe Castiglione of Oklahoma both told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd that their annual rivalry game will not be impacted.
"We understand and respect the decision made by the State Fair of Texas and acknowledge that it was an extremely difficult one," Castiglione later said in a statement. "Our hope remains that we can play the OU-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl, but obviously every aspect of our season requires constant monitoring and planning. The best thing all of us can do at this time is closely follow CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus."
Barring any changes to the 2020 college football season, which are certainly possible amid COVID-19, the Red River Showdown is still scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10 in Dallas. But the State Fair of Texas, which has been an iconic backdrop to one of college football's best rivalries, will not be going on as usual.
"This was an extremely tough decision. The health and safety of all involved has remained our top priority throughout the decision-making process," said Gina Norris, board chair for the State Fair of Texas, in a statement.
This will be the first time since World War II that the State Fair of Texas has not opened. The game between Prairie View A&M University and Grambling State University, which is also played at the Cotton Bowl, is still scheduled for Sept. 26. Any changes would be made by those institutions, just as it would be for Oklahoma or Texas.
The cancellation comes as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across Texas. There have been over 200,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far in the Lone Star State with more than 8,000 new cases being reported on July 1 and July 4. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently mandated that citizens wear face masks in public to help slow the spread of the disease.