The Big 12 is the only Power 5 conference that has not yet announced if it is going to alter its 2020 football schedules in the face of COVID-19.
The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC are going to play conference-only games this season, and the ACC has agreed to a conference-plus-one slate in which each member will play 10 conference games (with Notre Dame also included) plus the additional opportunity to also play an in-state game against one non-conference opponent.
Because of these schedule changes in the other P5 league, every Big 12 team has already had one regular season game wiped out (Baylor vs. Ole Miss, Iowa State vs. Iowa, Texas Tech vs. Arizona, Oklahoma vs. Tennessee, Oklahoma State vs. Oregon State, Kansas vs. Boston College, TCU vs. California, K-State vs. Vanderbilt and Texas vs. LSU) while West Virginia has lost two games (Maryland and Florida State).
The Big 12 has not yet announced what, if any, changes it is going to make to its 2020 regular season football schedule. The league’s 10 presidents/chancellors are reportedly going to meet Monday evening to decide what direction they want the league schools to take.
Supposedly they considering five different options, and while the Big 12 has not officially revealed those possibilities, the likely ones are:
1 – A full 12-game schedule. That means each league team would need to find one non-conference opponent, while WVU would need to find two. With the other Power 5 conferences no longer being an option, West Virginia would almost certainly turn to teams from the Mid-American, AAC, Conference USA (with Marshall being a possibility), the Sun Belt (with Appalachian State officials already reportedly having conversations with their counterparts at WVU) or another FCS foe to join Eastern Kentucky, which is already on West Virginia’s schedule and will likely remain there unless the Big 12 goes conference-only.
2 – A conference-only schedule. Like the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, the Big 12 teams would only play opponents in their own league though the dates would likely change from how they are currently arranged.
3 – A conference-only plus-one schedule, which would include all nine Big 12 games plus one non-conference opponent. For WVU, this would mean it would not have to change its schedule as it currently sits. Everybody else in the Big 12 would have to remove one non-conference opponent from its current 2020 slate.
4 – A conference-only plus-two. In this scenario WVU would need to add one more non-conference opponent to join Eastern Kentucky, while all the other Big 12 teams could move on as is.
5 – Some scenario where Big 12 teams play an additional game or two or even three against only other Big 12 teams. It would be a conference-only schedule, but the nine conference games would become anything from 10 to 12 by playing extra games against only league foes. Since each Big 12 team currently plays nine conference games with half the teams featuring five league home games and the other half four, balancing out the schedule with five conference home games this year for everyone, making for 10 contests total, would be the easiest format.
The Big 12 presidents will pick an option and will likely announce their choice either Monday or Tuesday. At that point, if schools need additional games, the respective athletic directors will all start scrambling to fill holes. We probably won’t know WVU’s exact 2020 schedule next week, but we’ll get an idea of the direction in which it is headed.
Copying the formulas already established by the other Power 5 conferences would seem the most likely, and thus the Big 12 will probably go conference-only or conference-only plus-one.
Reducing the number of football games this year to nine or 10 would certainly involve some financial pain – though nothing close to as much that would be suffered if there is no football season at all – but such a reduction would also provide some flexibility.
Even the Big 12 games currently scheduled very well may move to different weekends. That would provide openings later down the line if juggling is necessary to provide opportunities to make up games that had to be postponed because of a coronavirus outbreak.
We should know the formula for the Big 12 football schedule – and thus West Virginia’s – in the next few days, but in a year that has already seen many, many changes, expect more when it comes to the 2020 Big 12 gridiron slate.