Despite the pandemic, the Big 12 Conference is moving ahead with the football season — but league commissioner Bob Bowlsby knows that the virus will be present.
According to CBS Sports, Bowlsby spoke on a media conference call ahead of the league’s scheduled kick off this week, painting a bleak picture of the season to come.
"We could find ourselves in the same situation as the Big Ten and Pac-12 are in later in the season," Bowlsby said on the call, referencing those conferences' decisions to cancel the fall football season. "We are not injecting any bravado about it."
Bowlsby’s comments came as the Big 12 announced what it calls thresholds for canceling games based on player availability.
In a release, the conference announced football games would move forward as long teams could field 53-player rosters for game day. In addition, minimum thresholds were established for player positions. Teams that cannot field at least seven offensive lineman, four interior defensive linemen, and one quarterback will be given the option to compete anyway, or be able to seek approval from Bowlsby to declare the game no-contest, and to move on without rescheduling.
The Big 12 schedule has already been impacted by the virus — with TCU cancelling its matchup with SMU, and the Tulsa-Oklahoma State game postponed. The 10-team Big 12 will play a “9+1” schedule this season, playing round-robin in-conference while also scheduling one non-conference opponent. Each team will have two bye-weeks, allowing for some scheduling flexibility should it become necessary.
Bowlsby seemed to indicate that the league is doing it’s best to adjust to life wit the coronavirus.
"The scientists we've talked to have told us to expect for [COVID-19] to extend into two years," Bowlsby said.
“We feel like we got the best advice we could possibly get," he added. "… We're a long way from declaring we know more about it than anybody else. I don't know if there is anybody who can rightfully say they have all the answers."
The Big 12’s non-conference schedule is set to begin this weekend.