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What Are BYU's Scheduling Options in 2020?

The Big Ten announced their intentions to play a conference-only schedule. The rest of the P5 will likely follow suit.

After 24 hours of speculation, the Big Ten announced today "that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports." 

Minutes after their announcement, reports surfaced that the PAC-12 would follow the Big Ten's lead and play a conference only schedule in 2020: 

BYU's original 2020 football schedule included two Big Ten teams and three PAC-12 teams. Following today's news, what are BYU's scheduling options for the 2020 season? 

1. BYU plays 2020 schedule sans Big Ten & Pac-12

In this scenario, BYU is able to keep seven of their originally scheduled games:

  • BYU vs Utah State (10/2)
  • BYU vs Missouri (10/10)

The SEC hasn't made any decisions regarding non-conference schedules. However, it's difficult to foresee a scenario where the SEC plays their non-conference games while other P5 conferences cancel their non-conference games. This game is scheduled for October 10. It's worth noting that Navy is looking for an opponent on October 10, that game could make sense for both schools.

  • BYU vs Houston (10/16)
  • BYU at Northern Illinois (10/24)
  • BYU at Boise State (11/6)
  • BYU vs San Diego State (11/14)
  • BYU vs North Alabama (11/21)

The schedule isn't pretty, but it's not the worst-case scenario for BYU right now. BYU would need to find teams to fill the holes in their schedule. They could schedule other schools who were scheduled to face the Big Ten and PAC-12. Miami, for example, is looking for a game on 9/26 when they were scheduled to face Michigan State. From a scheduling standpoint that game could make sense. From a geographical standpoint during a pandemic, however, it doesn't make sense for either party.

2. The Power Five conferences play conference games plus one Group of Five game

The Mercury News reported that "there is some support in multiple Power Five conferences for exploring a nine-plus-one schedule." 

In this scenario, BYU might be able to keep a few of their originally scheduled games against Utah, Michigan State, Minnesota, Stanford, or Arizona State. They could also fill the holes in their schedule with other P5 teams. 

3. BYU is forced to play fellow independent schools

BYU would be in a precarious situation if all FBS conferences decided to play conference-only schedules. BYU, of course, would first contact Notre Dame who owes them a return trip to Provo. However, the ACC is prepared to "assist Notre Dame with as many games as it needed" according to Brett McMurphy of Stadium:

Beyond the Fighting Irish, there are limited options for BYU. Other independent schools include Army, Liberty, New Mexico State, UConn, and UMass.

BYU has a longstanding relationship with ESPN—they may need to leverage that relationship and create a schedule on the fly.

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