Oklahoma football: Big 12 is prepared to go in many directions, says Bob Bowlsby

Oklahoma football continues to prepare for a college season that seems to be taking different forms and degrees of concern as the scheduled start date fast approaches.

Optimism that there would be college football this fall has been gradually growing in recent weeks, especially among schools in Power Five conferences.

“It is a day-to-day process,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN and other media representatives on Monday.

That process may have reached yet another fork in the road when on Monday it was reported that at least 14 members of the MLB Miami Marlins had tested positive for the coronavirus. All of the Marlins’ scheduled games through next Sunday have been cancelled by Major League baseball. T

What happened over the weekend in Major League Baseball naturally has renewed concerns around the college football landscape about the viability, let alone the safety aspect, of going forward with college football in the fall.

The most concerning part about the Marlins’ situation — and in the opening week after the season start — are reports that the team might have gone ahead and played on Sunday in Philadelphia while knowing it had players who tested positive. What’s to prevent something like that happening in college football, let alone the other sports that are attempting to return to action?

“If we are advised that it is all right to play the (football) season, we should all expect that there will be such disruptions,” Bowlsby told the Des Moines Register and reported later by The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman

Oklahoma football today is operating under the assumption of playing a full 12-game schedule.

“Coronavirus testing needs to be available and results readily assessed and returned” for a season to take place, Bowlsby said. “Masks and social distancing in all parts of our society will help to safeguard athletes and all members of our communities.”

Most important, “proper and ongoing mitigation procedures need to continue to be employed and improved,” he reiterated.

As previously reported, the Big 12 and SEC remain hopeful that they can play a complete 12-game schedule, despite the fact that the Big Ten and Pac-12 have already said they will play a conference-only schedule.

“It is important that the Power Five leagues are compatible with their scheduling plans, “but they don’t have to be identical,” Bowlsby told ESPN college football writer Heather Dinich.

The ACC is expected to come forward this week with its plans for the coming season. That conference has a unique contractual agreement with Notre Dame, which already includes six scheduled games with the Fighting Irish.

Bowlsby said the Big 12 is prepared with a “wide variety of scheduling models,” including a plus-one plan that would call for nine conference games and one nonconference opponent. There are several games scheduled between Big 12 and SEC schools, including the one between Oklahoma and Tennessee set for Sept. 12 in Norman.

The college football season remains a moving target, with circumstances continuing to change daily. Conference commissioners and officials of the member schools have no choice but to remain flexible and vigilant in the testing procedures and other protective measures they have in place to guard against COVID exposure.

The one thing that has remained unchanged through all of this is the consensus among all of the Power Five conferences that decisions are being made based on the advice of local and national medical experts, along with guidelines and requirements put in place by state and local leaders in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At the current time, “we plan to start at week zero (Aug. 29 in the case of the Big 12) and play a full schedule.”

Stay tuned…