Big 12 Decides on Football Schedule and Format for 2020 Fall

Robert Allen

STILLWATER -- Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis joined the other nine chief officers from the Big 12 member schools with conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on a Zoom meeting that started at 5 p.m. Monday evening (August 3). This was the same Big 12 Board of Directors meeting that has been held every other week at that time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

This meeting decided much more than the previous nine of these sessions. The last of the Power Five conferences to decide their strategy for the upcoming football season, the Big 12 Board voted to fall in line, primarily, with the other Power Five conferences and go with a "9+1" schedule that would be made up of nine Big 12 conference games and one non conference contest.

The start of Conference play will be solidified in the coming weeks, with an anticipated start sometime between mid-to late-September, with the expectation that non-conference games are contested prior to beginning league games.

The model also gives the Conference flexibility to move back the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game to December 12 or 19. The Big 12 has arrangements with the Texas Rangers new Globe Life Stadium to use that facility if there is a conflict with AT&T Cowboys Stadium, which will be hosting high school championship games the weekend of Dec. 19.

“I would like to salute the work of our university presidents and chancellors, athletics directors, coaches, medical advisors and administrators who have worked tirelessly and collaboratively during these extraordinary times,” said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “We believe this change provides the best opportunity going forward. However, we will undoubtedly need to be flexible as we progress through the season in order to combat the challenges that lie ahead.”

The result of the Big 12 Board of Directors meeting was first reported by The Athletic. 

Oklahoma State and the other teams in the Big 12 will play their nine game conference schedule and then have to chose which non conference game they will honor. For example West Virginia only has one non conference game left after all of the action of the Power Five leagues. The Cowboys will have to decide between Tulsa and Western Illinois. Iowa State with the recent addition of Ball State has three games still on the schedule. There will be some decisions that have to be made.

The other leagues have decided on the following formats for their seasons:

  • Big Ten: 10 games, all conference with no starting date listed but it is believed that it will be Sept. 5 in order to build in three-to-five open dates in the schedule
  • Pac-12: 10 games, all conference with a starting date of Sept. 26
  • ACC: 11 games, 10 conference games and one home or in-state non conference game and the schedule will start the week of Sept. 7-12
  • SEC: 10 games, all conference with the games beginning on Sept. 26

As of right now, Oklahoma, Kansas, perhaps TCU and reportedly one other school were planning games on the zero weekend of Aug. 29. Oklahoma and Kansas are the only schools we know who have started practice. Later the Big 12 clarified the decision on when to start the season and when it will be announced. It still appears as if those games will happen. 

The NCAA has waived the 29-practice rule prior to opening games. Oklahoma State is scheduled to start practice on Wednesday and is expecting to follow through with that.

We also spoke to multiple sources that believed Oklahoma State would use their one non conference game to play Tulsa. Oklahoma State is scheduled to play Tulsa on 10 of their future schedules, including this upcoming 2020 season. It would make sense to honor the commitment both ways since the schools have so many games scheduled for the future.

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis was likely a popular man during the Big 12 Board of Directors meeting as he is also on the NCAA Board of Governors that will meet Tuesday. He is one of six voting members of that group from the Power Five conferences. That group, which delayed action on July 24 will meet on Tuesday and vote to cancel NCAA fall championships and making it more difficult for football to operate as the only fall sport. One option for the Board of Governors is to act on Divisions II and III and hold off any action on fall sports in Division I. You would think there would be a lot of pressure on that group to leave Division I and the Power Five conferences alone.

“We’re hoping against hope that the Board of Governors do not cancel the fall,” one Big 12 AD told The Athletic. “It’s way too early. Let’s get into the season. We’re hoping they at least postpone that (vote) until later in the fall.”

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