Over the last month, as BYU has seen its once-strong 2020 football schedule dwindle down to only six possible games, the murmurings of how to salvage the season have focused on a possible single-season conference agreement. And the Big 12 has led the majority of the buzz.
While the majority of Power Five conferences have 14 members, the Big 12 only has 10. As conferences are moving to conference-only schedules, inviting an independent — or a few — could help the Big 12 to play a schedule similar to the other Power Five leagues.
On Monday, the Big 12 athletic directors met to discuss how the league would navigate the pandemic this season. Unfortunately for BYU, the Cougars will have to keep waiting to join a Power Five conference.
The athletic directors instead opted for a plus-one, 10-game season.
Two people involved with the decision say 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 continued to fall into place.
The people spoke Monday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was still preparing an official announcement.
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 one of the people told AP that the conference is leaving open the possibility of bumping it back a week or two.
The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power Five conference 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.
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 Five conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, along with the Southeastern Conference, which is still working on its new 10-game slate.
The Atlantic Coast Conference 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 Five has declared its intentions the Group of Five 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 a 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 Associated Press contributed to this report.