Currently set for 50-percent capacity at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in 2020, the Texas Longhorns still plan on starting the season against the USF Bulls on Sept. 6, athletics director Chris Del Conte told Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman on Wednesday.
That means that the Longhorns intend on playing a full 12-game schedule even as the Big Ten and Pac-12 have already canceled non-conference game. Among the Power Five conferences, that leaves the ACC, Big 12, and the SEC as the leagues waiting until late this month to make decisions about potentially shortening the football season.
Multiple reports, including from Banner Society’s Steven Godfrey, indicate that those three conferences are working on a scheduling alliance that would preserve non-conference games and help fill in gaps caused by Big Ten and Pac-12 cancelations.
But Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is also working with his member institutions to come up with back-up plans, just like everyone else in college football. One of those plans preserves a single non-conference game — LSU in the case of Texas — and another could even result in the Longhorns and Sooners moving the rivalry game from the Cotton Bowl to each campus for two years.
Continue to hear that Big 12 ADs want a full 12-game schedule. But the "plus-one" model is on the table: 9 league + 1 non-con. Also, Texas-OU could be home/home for 2 years in worst-case scenario.— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) July 22, 2020
The home-and-home series is a possibility for the Red River rivals in no small part because the State Fair of Texas announced earlier this month that it won’t hold the fair this year due to coronavirus concerns.
Even as the Big 12 moves forward without any announced changes to the schedule — Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, and West Virginia have already lost non-conference games to cancelations — there’s still skepticism about playing the season because of the NCAA’s contact tracing guidelines.
The NFL, for instance, has the money to test enough to provide much different quarantine guidelines than the NCAA, where there are vast discrepancies in access to testing and the money to pay for it as athletic departments take big hits financially following the cancelation of the NCAA tournament and the prospect of limited capacity or no fans at all in stadiums this fall.
The result is that “the NCAA recommended 14 days of quarantine for anyone with a high risk of exposure to COVID-19” based on the guidance of the Center for Disease Control as opposed to the NFL, which will allow players to return after two negative tests in a 24-hour period. The length of that NCAA-recommended quarantine and the potential to apply it to so many players, unmitigated by the potential to return thanks to multiple negative tests, has significant implications for the season.
“How can you actually think you’re going to get through a full schedule with those being the tracing rules?” a Power Five coach told Yahoo Sports. “Having kids test positive is something that’s certainly going to happen. You’re going to talk about multiple practices — 1’s and 3’s and 2’s and 4’s. Half of your team is not going to be available. What kind of football are we going to get?”