College football's Power Five leagues are working towards figuring out their schedules over the next few weeks. Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec discussed the current Big 12 football timeline in a new interview with the Austin-American Statesman.
The Pac-12 could wind up being the first league to really roll out its schedule plans. We already know that the league is going conference-only. Yesterday, Jon Wilner of The Mercury News reported some of the league's nearly-finalized plans, including Week 1 being pushed back to the weekend of Sept. 19.
The Big Ten was the first to announce a conference-only schedule. The ACC reportedly favors a "10 plus one" model with one non-conference slot, while the Big 12 and SEC could go as far as play a full 12 game season. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey wouldn't give a hard timeline for a decision to come when asked this week.
Schovanec says his league is also happy to wait things out a bit, up to two weeks per the report. “We still have time,” he told AAS staff writer Brian Davis. “So at what point do we have to make a decision? We haven’t gotten there yet. But I also think we recognize the fact that if we get to a go/no-go point will be prepared to act very quickly and pivot on a dime.”
As of now, Big 12 football practices are still set for Aug. 7. Schovanec also mentioned other options for adjusting the schedule, including spacing things out more and pushing back the Big 12 Championship, to adjust for the possibility of postponements due to infections.
As for campus life, Schovanec said, “We’re going to take every step we can to try to make sure this campus doesn’t become a hotspot.”
So what does a 12-game season look like in the Big 12? Schovanec said stretching out the season is possible, meaning the league would push back the date of the Big 12 championship game. By adding off weeks, it creates more space should teams have to postpone games because of high infection rates.
Schovanec was pretty honest about the financial implications that playing college football this fall has on his school and the entire league. He admitted that without football, it will be hard to financially support the rest of the athletic department.
And then there is this...
What is an acceptable infection rate? That hasn’t been determined by the league, Schovanec said. Both Schovanec and Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt have discussed 20% as a possible number. Should 20% of a team test positive, that week’s game would be postponed, hypothetically.
That decision will not be made solely by the Big 12 presidents. “Deciding what is the critical threshold, the input of coaches and ADs is critical,” Schovanec said.
That doesn't make selling the public on having unpaid college athletes put themselves in harm's way to assuage the financial concerns of massive wealthy institutions any easier.