Bowlsby: Fall virus fears prompt split-season CFB discussion

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby believes the college football season could begin as scheduled in August. It’s getting to the pre-planned finish line that worries him.

Conference commissioners are discussing a split-season concept with games starting in August as scheduled and a break late in the fall before resuming the season and reaching the postseason during the spring in 2021.

“We will be very, very lucky to start on Labor Day weekend and get through a football season without disruptions,” Bowlsby said. “We will be very lucky to get through the postseason and the basketball season without disruptions.”

The Big 12 has schools in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and West Virginia and all are operating with a moderately different approach when it comes to social distancing and counteracting the coronavirus pandemic.

Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey said Thursday he could envision a reality in which his conference has only select schools willing and able to participate in games this fall.

“As an example, say somebody at TCU tests positive for the virus and it’s somebody that works regularly with the football team,” Bowlsby said. “West Virginia is scheduled to come in on Saturday and play against them. If West Virginia calls and says they’re not coming because we don’t wanna expose our kids, do they forfeit? Does TCU forfeit? Is it considered no game?

“What happens if we say we’re going to play a nine-game conference schedule and only get seven games in? What happens if some that get eight games and some that only get six games? How do you decide your champion? The number of variables is virtually almost limitless. But those are the kinds of things that we’re working our way through.”

Kansas was the latest Big 12 program to accept voluntary offers from coaches and administrators to reduce pay. Football is the key revenue-driving sports at most Division I schools.

Bowlsby said the variables around the season, and whether fans would ultimately be able to attend games, creates an added layer of concern.

“We certainly would love to be playing with full stadiums, but given social distancing and some of the things we’ve been through, one has to wonder if the psychology of going back to public assembly isn’t going to change,” Bowlsby said. “Are you gonna want to go into a stadium and sit cheek to jaw with someone you don’t know, after all we’ve been through?”

--Field Level Media