MAC Brings Big 12 More Bad News ... but What's Next?

John. E. Hoover

Saturday’s revelations that the MAC has canceled its fall football schedule — the first FBS conference to go that far in response to the Coronavirus pandemic — was more bad news for the Big 12.

The Big 12 last week announced that league members would play nine conference games plus one non-conference game, so two Big 12 teams lost potential opponents: Kansas State had a Sept. 5 home game scheduled against Buffalo, and Iowa State had rescheduled its Sept. 12 visit to Iowa into a home game with Ball State.

Those are both in the dustbin now.

Kansas State had previously lost its Sept. 19 home game with Vanderbilt when the SEC shut down non-conference games. Iowa State’s scheduled game with UNLV on Sept. 19 is likely off because the Mountain West Conference pushed the start of competition to no earlier than Sept. 26, though it’s conceivable exceptions could be made.

The Wildcats and Cyclones are now holding out hope that their FCS opponents — North Dakota and South Dakota, respectively — agree to play, even though the Missouri Valley Conference has postponed league competition to the spring semester.

That’s how Oklahoma’s opener with Missouri State is shaping up. The Bears stand to get $600,000 from OU in exchange for coming to Norman, and as they put that money to work throughout the MSU athletic department, the football team will take the next four months off and reconvene for conference games in the spring.

In all, five Big 12 teams have games against Valley opponents: OU (Missouri State), Kansas State (North Dakota), Iowa State (South Dakota), Oklahoma State (Western Illinois) and Kansas (Southern Illinois, a reschedule of the game against New Hampshire).

And other Big 12 teams face a similar dilemma with FCS opponents:

Baylor (Incarnate Word), TCU (Tennessee Tech), Texas Tech (Houston Baptist, a combo replacement of the scheduled opener at UTEP and home game with Alabama State), and West Virginia (Eastern Kentucky).

Only Texas doesn’t have an FCS team scheduled, but the Longhorns must figure out whether they’re going to play UTEP or South Florida (the game versus LSU was canceled by the SEC).

Ultimately, it may turn out that none of this matters.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel, Big Ten Conference presidents have a scheduled meeting on Saturday afternoon, and while it could be largely benign (discussions about television revenue or polishing up schedule details), it could also be something far more austere (postponing or canceling all fall sports).

Such a decision from the Big Ten inevitably would start a cascade of cancellations from other leagues, and nationwide efforts would begin in earnest to stage an even further truncated spring football season.

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