MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Big 12 will permit its teams to play one nonconference football game this year to go along with their nine league contests as plans for the pandemic-altered season continues to fall into place.
“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,” 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 12 university presidents signed off on the conference’s scheduling model, which gives schools the ability to play one nonconference game at home. The conference’s championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but could bump it back to Dec. 12 or Dec. 19.
The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power 5 conferences that have switched to either exclusively (Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) or mostly (ACC) league games this season, the Big 12 could not add more conference games without teams playing each other more than once.
Several Big 12 teams have already started preseason practice, with Kansas and Oklahoma slated to play FCS teams on Aug. 29.
West Virginia already lost two of its three nonconference games following decisions by the Big Ten and ACC. The season-opener against Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta was canceled when the ACC decided teams can only play its plus-home game in its home state.
The home game against Maryland at Milan Puskar Stadium was canceled when the Big Ten said it was not playing a nonconference schedule at all.
The Mountaineers are fortunate in that regard — it will not need to cancel any games on its own in the Big 12’s format. It already has one nonconference game scheduled — Sept. 12 at home against Eastern Kentucky. However, the NCAA is expected to make a decision on the future of FCS football in the near future.
There is a possibility the Big 12 will alter the current schedule for all schools to provide leniency throughout the entire season by providing more open dates in case games need to be postponed and rescheduled.
As conferences take steps toward a football season that seems to be in precarious shape, the NCAA is expected to weigh in Tuesday on fall sports other than major-college football.
The association’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet and whether to cancel or postpone NCAA championship events in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower-division football is expected to be a topic.
Only the Pac-12 has a full football schedule with matchups and dates in place among Power 5 conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, along with the SEC, which is still working on its new 10-game slate.
The ACC has opponents set for its 10-game conference schedule and will start the weekend of Sept. 12, but no specific game dates. The ACC has also said it will permit its teams to play one nonconference game.
The Big Ten, first to announce intentions to go conference-only this season, has yet to release a new schedule, but that could come later this week.
Now that the Power 5 has declared its intentions, the Group of 5 conferences can start making plans and filling holes on their schedules.
American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the AAC could stick with its eight-game conference schedule and let its members plays as many of their four nonconference games as they can salvage or replace.
The Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are likely to take similar approach.
Early Monday, Texas State from the Sun Belt announced it was moving a nonconference game against SMU up from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29.
The Dominion Post’s Sean Manning contributed to this report.