Oklahoma football: Sooners may play a 10-game schedule in 2020

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 9: The Oklahoma Sooners press box is lit up against the Iowa State Cyclones on November 9, 2019 at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. OU held on to win 42-41. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 9: The Oklahoma Sooners press box is lit up against the Iowa State Cyclones on November 9, 2019 at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. OU held on to win 42-41. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /
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In another week or so we should have a much better idea of what the 2020 Oklahoma football schedule is actually going to look like.

Related Story. Support growing for playing the '20 season in '21. light

By the end of July, the three other Power Five conferences said they would be ready to reveal their scheduling plans for the upcoming season, which is targeted to kick off in a little more than a month. The Big 12 may take a week or so longer before making any definitive decisions about ther upcoming college football season, Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec told The Oklahoman this week.

Earlier this month, both the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced that they were eliminating all nonconference games this season and would play a conference-only schedule.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said recently that Big 12 schools were not ready to move that quickly to make that decision, indicating that the conference remains in favor of playing a full schedule. That idea may already be in jeopardy, however, with several Big 12 teams having nonconference games on their schedule against teams from a conference that has either cancelled nonconference games or shuttered the entire season because of the coronavirus threat.

According to Shovanec, the conference presidents are considering a plus-one model as a contingency plan should it ultimately be decided that reducing the number of games is in the best interest of the student-athletes and staff members in order to protect them from COVID-19 exposure.

Under a plus-one format, Big 12 teams would play a round-robin, nine-game conference schedule and one other nonconference game. If that becomes the direction Big 12 officials elect to follow, Oklahoma, for example, would most likely try to preserve the scheduled game with Tennessee and drop the season-opener with Missouri State as well as the third game, which was a scheduled trip to play Army at West Point.

Will Oklahoma football be a 10- or 12-game season in 2020?

The Army game may be in peril, anyway, because of New York state COVID restrictions on non-New York residents entering the state.

What course the Big 12 football season — and college football in general — takes in the fall will largely be determined by the answer to the question: What is an acceptable COVID-19 exposure rate? That decision will not be made solely by the school presidents, Shovanec said. Critical input will also be required from the coaches and athletic directors.

Whatever that rate is, then you are faced with the question: What happens if a team exceeds that exposure rate? Is that game — or perhaps the next two games — cancelled because of a quarantining protocol?

Many issues and concerns and still not many answers as college football makes a sincere and safety-minded effort to salvage a 2020 season.

No school has had a better health and safety record in protecting players and staff from COVID exposure during the time of on-campus voluntary workouts than Oklahoma. The Sooners have not had any new COVID-19 exposures for three consecutive weeks after 14 positive tests involving players were reported when the players first arrived back on campus on July 1.

That shows you that the right health and safety protocols are in place and that the OU players and staff are adhering to social distancing and mask requirements to protect themselves and their teammates.

That’s fine for now. It’s much easier for the school(s) to create a sterile environment when the rest of the student body isn’t around. What happens, though, when the students return and the temptations to let your guard down increase, or when the team travels away from its campus bubble to play at another school?

Next. Projecting how the Big 12 will shake out in 2020. dark

That will be the real test and ultimately will determine how — and when — the 2020 season will play out.