The 10 schools in the Big 12 will play all of the other teams in the conference, as usual. Those matchups are expected to begin “sometime between mid- to late September,” the conference said in its announcement. The lone nonconference game will take place before those intraconference matchups. The Big 12 will hold its championship game Dec. 12 or 19.
“I would like to salute the work of our university presidents and chancellors, athletic directors, coaches, medical advisors and administrators who have worked tirelessly and collaboratively during these extraordinary times,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “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 Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC will play conference-only schedules this fall. The ACC announced an 11-game schedule with one nonconference game, which would have allowed some storied in-state rivalries to be played this year if the SEC had chosen a similar model. Eliminating nonconference games gives the leagues more flexibility with scheduling, particularly if coronavirus outbreaks within teams force cancellations or postponements.
Professional sports leagues, such as the NBA, WNBA and NHL, have had success returning to play inside bubbles, which keep players and personnel separated from the public. But that setup is not possible for college football, which will resemble MLB with its return-to-play model in home markets. The St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins have had major outbreaks in the MLB season that started July 23.
College football programs returned to voluntary workouts in June and will soon begin fall camp. Numerous schools have had coronavirus cases within their programs, and some have had to temporarily shut down workouts. Similar outbreaks during the season could prompt chaotic rescheduling.
The NCAA’s recommendations for returning to play amid the coronavirus call for 14 days of quarantine for those who have come in close contact with someone who tested positive. The guidelines note that “this could mean an entire team (or teams).”