A group of five Big 12 athletic directors is reportedly pondering different thresholds and criteria for canceling, postponing or forfeiting football games in the fall during what is almost certain to be a college football season without precedent.
CBS Sports reports that the group of ADs, which includes Baylor’s Mack Rhoades, Kansas State’s Gene Taylor, Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione, TCU’s Jeremiah Donati and West Virginia’s Shane Lyons, is in the early stages of planning for how to proceed in the event that the virus impacts rosters or the ability of a particular program to field a competitive team.
The subcommittee is reportedly discussing a number of variables and considerations. CBS Sports reports that in the event that a football team’s roster of scholarship athletes is reduced by 25 percent, that may trigger a threshold for some sort of action. Similarly, if rosters are shortened, student-athletes may cross train at multiple positions.
"What constitutes a disqualified team?" TCU’s Donati wondered. "Is it a percentage of guys in your overall number? Is it a percentage of scholarship guys? Is it the number of guys in a depth chart at one position?"
Another consideration is the availability of tests for COVID-19. No national standard exists, but the Power 5 conferences are reportedly working through a game-week procedure that could help decide whether a scheduled game is safe to play. One complicating factor with testing, however, is timing. If a key player tests positive the day before a game, or if during the week the program passes a threshold, should the game continue?
An additional factor in the discussions is gamesmanship by coaches. A college football coach may not want to play a game — and it may not be safe to do so — if for instance, all of the scholarship athletes at the quarterback position are unavailable. "How do we have to look at this and say, 'What's legitimate and what's not legitimate?' " Lyons said. "We don't want any gamesmanship of coaches saying, 'I don't want to play because my starting quarterback really got hurt. He tweaked an ankle, so we don't (want) to play the next week against XYZ.' "
Finally, the college football schedule’s rigidity might make deciding whether or not to play a particular game a difficult calculation. Some conferences have already discussed pushing back their championship games to build more wiggle room into the schedule should programs need it, but even then options are limited.
According to CBS Sports, whatever recommendations the five ADs come up with will go through additional stages before they’re adopted by the conference. Other ADs, the conference commissioner and even student-athletes themselves will have an opportunity to weigh in.
Regardless, whichever recommendations the committee adopts are is sure to be complicated. As Oklahoma’s Castiglione told CBS Sports, "I wish there were easy ways to do this.”