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Bob Bowlsby explains why the Big 12 is staying the course

The commissioner spoke to the media on Wednesday, hours after the Big 12 became the first Power Five conference to announce plans to play fall sports.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Day Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Just a day after the Big Ten and the Pac-12 canceled their fall football season, the Big 12 unveiled their season schedule on Wednesday.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby spoke to the media following the announcement regarding the decision process.

“I feel very good about where we are at the present time,” Bowlsby said in his opening monologue. The Big 12 board has been meeting weekly with doctors and scientists from five conferences along with other leading experts in areas of infections diseases and representatives from the Mayo Clinic.”

While it seems other conferences and schools that have canceled their fall seasons are playing it safe, Bowlsby is confident in their decision to continue playing amidst arguments from others to forgo the football season and, in fact, all fall sports entirely.

“I have better information and my presidents have better information than most of our friends in the fourth estate,” Bowlsby said. “The Pac-12 and the Big Ten are seeing much of the same information that we’re seeing, but our board believes in our scientists that have to a conclusion that’s different.”

Bowlsby used to same reasoning to justify why it’s safe to play football in Texas, but not in California even though both states have over 50,000 reported cases in the last seven days, according to the New York Times.

“We can look at the same data and come to different conclusions and I think that’s what happened,” Bowlsby said.

While the Big Ten and the Pac-12 aim to play in the spring, the Big 12 ultimately decided it was better to play in the fall. However, a spring season is still on the table if the worst-case scenario does happen.

“If you start to play in March, that means you bring the players back and you start preseason camp the last week of January, which is right in the teeth of the virus season,” Bowlsby said. “It all sounds good to move into the spring, but I don’t think there’s any indication that it’s any more certain in the spring than it would be in the fall.”

Still, if the train does fall off the tracks and the Big 12 has to cancel the season, Bowlsby did say moving the season to the spring is “viable,” just not their first choice.

While testing procedures are a little different for each Big 12 school at the moment, Bowlsby envisions standard testing procedures during the season that will take place Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings in an attempt to limit transmission within programs and ensure that players won’t spread the coronavirus between teams on gamedays.

What will it take for the season to get canceled? Bowlsby does not have a specific number of confirmed cases that would cause the cancelation of individual games or the season.

“We’re still working that,” Bowlsby said. “We’ve asked the coaches to give us some thoughts on how they might do it, but we haven’t come to closure on it.”

Bowlsby used an example of all the quarterbacks on a team testing positive being enough to forfeit the game or, if there’s enough time in the season, rescheduling it. There is still a variety of unknowns and as Bowlsby best put it, if you think you have an idea on how the virus and the season will play out, “you’re delusional.”

When asked about fan attendance this season, Bowlsby is leaving it up to the schools to decide what maximum capacity will be but admitted “I don’t think we’re going to be anywhere near capacity crowds.”

Each Big 12 school will have one non-conference opponent and are expected to adhere to the Big 12 testing standards, according to Bowlsby. Conference play for the Longhorns will begin on September 26 at Texas Tech.

There was some speculation that Nebraska and BYU were going to join the Big 12 for the upcoming season, but Bowlsby denied any deliberations about adding temporary members.

“It is not in any of our plans at the present time.”