No Decision on Big 12 Scheduling for 2020, News and Notes from Cowboy Football

Robert Allen

STILLWATER -- No news on Friday (July 31) from the Big 12 or from Oklahoma State athletics, so the focus does indeed shift to Monday and the Big 12 Board of Directors meeting where Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis represents OSU. The athletic directors will also be part of the Monday gathering as all participants have looked at the various models that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has mentioned in interviews with Pokes Report and Triple Play Sports Radio, with ESPN, CBS, and with national radio on Sirius-XM earlier this week. 

CBS reports that the Big 12 athletic directors did have a conference call on Friday and they report from several sources that the athletic directors are split between playing a full 12-game schedule, which no team currently has in place, at least officially, except for Iowa State, and an 10 game schedule with the nine conference games and one non conference contest. 

"I think we're probably headed down a pathway of nine plus one," a Big 12 official told CBS Sports earlier Friday.

The Cyclones announced earlier this week an agreement with Ball State to play in Ames on Sept. 12 to make up for the Iowa rivalry game lost when the Big Ten announced a conference schedule only. Every other Big 12 team has at least one opponent missing in their schedule.

Talking with three different members of the Oklahoma State athletics senior staff, I get the feeling that their preference is 10 games, nine Big 12 games and one non conference game. Oklahoma State lost the opener with Oregon State and has neighbor Tulsa scheduled for Sept. 12. They also have an open week between the Sept. 19 game with Western Illinois and the conference opener at TCU on Oct. 3 with TCU. Two of the staff members that I spoke with liked the idea of possibly bringing in BYU as a 10th member of the Big 12 for this upcoming season. They felt it would be an easy fit. 

On my radio show, I had a listener suggest that if the Big 12 went with just the nine game conference schedule that an extra game (data point) could be added for top teams by staging a conference semifinals weekend. The top four finishers would meet with one playing four and two playing three. Those games could be held on the campus of the higher seed. The two winners would meet in Arlington at AT&T Cowboys Stadium for the Big 12 Championship Game. 

I sensed some interest in that possibility, but I really felt the preference is to play Tulsa and the nine conference tilts in the Big 12. 

The concern, which has been expressed by the other Power Five commissioners when announcing their plans, is with confidence in the testing protocols of non conference opponents, especially non Power Five schools. The other advantage cited in moving the season back, the championship games back, is that it opens up weeks in the season where games, if any have to be postponed, could be made up. 

The Pac-12 took the stage today by announcing their 10-game all conference schedule including dates and moving the Pac-12 Championship Game to either Dec. 18 (Fri.) or Dec. 19 (Sat.).

One day after having the SEC thumb their nose at them or worse, the ACC made no changes to the 11 game schedule they announced on Wednesday with 10 conference games and one non conference game that has to be played in the state where the ACC participating school is located. The wording was directed at the SEC showing that the ACC was looking to preserve rivalry Saturday (Nov. 28) games between Georgia Tech-Georgia, Clemson- South Carolina, Florida State-Florida, and Louisville-Kentucky. The SEC chose a model for 10-games all conference match-ups. They will wait and start on Sept. 26.

The ACC is now stuck, but each team has a home game with either a Group of Five or Division I FCS school. Some are cutting it thin. Liberty made out well as it looks like they recovered two games they might have lost in Virginia Tech and Syracuse. 

The Big Ten has yet to announce a schedule, but it will be 10-games, all conference and with the Big Ten Championship Game moved back and the start date said to be Sept. 5, it is believed they will have three-to-five off dates built in for schedule adjustments if COVID-19 forces them. 

Now, we wait for Monday to see what the Big 12 does and Oklahoma State's schedule. 

Oklahoma was one of three teams in Division I FBS that practiced today. Marshall and East Carolina are scheduled in zero week and both started their fall camp today. 

Down in Norman, Bedlam rival Oklahoma had their first practice preparing for Missouri State on Aug. 29. The question is will that game actually be played? Right now, it is scheduled and gives OU license to start fall camp. 

OU practice
The Sooners became the first school in the Big 12 to have a football practice since several schools worked out on Tursday, March 12 before activity was shut down. University of Oklahoma Athletics

“You’re seeing all the various models that have been discussed behind the scenes start to evolve,” OU athletic director and a Big 12 leader in Joe Castiglione in an interview Friday morning on radio with OU play-by-play broadcaster Toby Rowland. “You’re also understanding the difficulty of the decisions when you consider people are in different parts of the country and have different challenges, see it different ways, have different perspectives. So no, not really surprised by any of it. We had hoped we had all be making an announcement about the same time, even if what we announced was different from each other. Never expected it to be identical. We’re going to make our announcement here soon. We have a meeting scheduled Monday afternoon. So we’ll see where it goes from here.”

Oklahoma State Football News

Oklahoma State continued working with the 20-hour work week that includes walk thrus and some drills, while Rob Glass and the athletic performance staff continue to get the team in the best condition possible. Fridays in the off season and summer still include stadium steps in the early a.m. 

The Cowboys are still slated to begin fall camp on Wednesday, Aug. 5 providing they plan to play the opener on Thursday, Sept. 3. As of now there is no team plugged in to replace Oregon State. Our sources tell us that BYU is the opponent if that game comes off. Oklahoma State and deputy athletic director Chad Weiberg, who is in charge of football scheduling along with head coach Mike Gundy, keeps his moved close to the vest. Weiberg was wise in not leaking anything as it may not matter pending the decision by the Big 12 Board of Directors on Monday. 

As far as COVID-19 news, I did say on radio this week that I knew that Oklahoma State football had at least 27 positive tests this summer overall. I know now that information traveled by word of mouth to other media outlets that used it as a controversial story. Nothing controversial about it. The first wave of players had 14 test positive. Pokes Report learned of five positive tests with the second wave through players that told us or put it out on social media. There were another eight we know of later. Our speculation is there were more as the medical staff did not report any numbers but did speak of a spike in positive tests after the Fourth of July. That was revealed in a story this week in The Oklahoman.  

If you look around the country, I think you will find very few schools that have less than 27 positive tests since they reported up until the first of August.

Oklahoma State football and Learfield-IMG have done Cowboy football fans a big favor with their summer series of fan guides for football. Below is volume two of the fan guide. 

Here is a link to get to volume one. 

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