Following a meeting of the Big 12 Board of Directors on Monday, reports emerged that the conference will play 10 games this season — nine games against Big 12 opponents and one game against a non-conference opponent.
Sources tell me and @NicoleAuerbach: Big 12 Board of Directors approved plan to play 9 conference games and 1 nonconference game.— Max Olson (@max_olson) August 4, 2020
The nonconference game has to be a home game for the Big 12 school, sources tell @TheAthleticCFB.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) August 4, 2020
In a release from the conference, the league still hasn’t set a start date for the season and could move the Big 12 Championship game back a week if necessary. It’s expected to start in mid-September or later with the non-conference game preceding league play.
“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 news comes after the other Power Five conference all made similar decisions in recent weeks — the Big Ten and the Pac-12 announced conference-only schedules in football nearly four weeks ago.
In the Big 12, however, Bowlsby, presidents, and athletic directors all took their time to come to a similar conclusion about the feasibility of playing 12 games. With the numerous cancelations as a result of decisions by those other conference, the Big 12 wasn’t left with much choice.
When athletic directors met on Friday, the plus-one model became the most likely path for the Big 12, which has fewer member institutions than the other Power Five conferences, allowing it to play a round-robin schedule every year. But with other conferences playing 10 games, the league became concerned about getting left out of the College Football Playoffs if it only played nine games.
Those concerns, of course, are currently far in the distance with the feasibility of playing collegiate sports at all this fall still heavily in question.
Last week’s decision by the SEC canceled the game in Baton Rouge against LSU in Week 2, so that leaves Texas will two options — keep the game against USF in Austin or host UTEP. Preserving the game against the Miners gives Texas more time to prepare for the season and an opponent within the UT system to allow more effective collaboration before the game on protocols to keep players safe on both teams.
The SEC won’t play its first games until Sept. 26. UTEP at Texas is scheduled for Sept. 19, prior to a bye week that precedes conference play.