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ROUNDTABLE: Will the Big 12 champion have an asterisk?

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The coronavirus is already impacting conference title races.

Baylor head coach Dave Aranda calls out to his team during an NCAA college football game against West Virginia, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Morgantown, W.Va.
William Wotring / The Dallas Morning News

A few of my colleagues at Cowboys Ride For Free got together with me to discuss the rescheduling of the Baylor game this upcoming weekend and what that could mean for conference play and title races.

Robert Whetsell

While all the sports, professional and amateur, have been impacted, let’s focus on college football as much as possible. While several Big 12 teams have had issues, Baylor is now the first program forced to cancel a conference game due to coronavirus protocols. This is also the 2nd game Baylor has had to cancel due to the Bears’ protocol problems. At what point does a program have to begin forfeiting games, or is that even an option? Would you simply remove that team from the schedule for everyone? Or would the Big 12 (and maybe other conferences) just keep pushing things out into the new year?

Phillip Slavin

Well, the game isn’t canceled. It’s been rescheduled for Dec. 12th and according to AD Mack Rhodes on SicEm365 radio show, they intend to play that game and every game on the schedule. (Also, he basically blamed West Virginia’s visiting locker room size for their latest outbreak.)

That said, if Baylor continues to struggle to keep the Coronavrius in check, at a certain point repercussions should be that they forfeit games. Same goes for any team.

More specifically, if OSU and Baylor get to Dec. 12 and the game can’t be played (again) because of Baylor, then it should be a forfeit.

I understand that this virus is highly contagious and that there are going to be cases. My first concern is always with the health and safety of everyone, especially those that contract the virus.

But at a certain point, if you can’t keep your program I order, it’s on you and there need to be on the field repercussions.

RW

Okay, fine, I shouldn’t have said canceled. One comment in and I’ve already been corrected...that didn’t take long.

Matt Harris

I had a similar thought. That’s how Texas High School football is going currently, if you can’t play, it’s a forfeit if it’s a district game. I think the implications of that at the NCAA level is much bigger, especially for teams that are making at least a little gate revenue with 25 percent attendance.

On the other hand, it’s not fair in my opinion to make OSU and Baylor be potentially the only teams without a bye week to prepare for a Big 12 championship game. If Oklahoma State has a chance to make it and they would be playing, say, Iowa State... wouldn’t be fair to have Iowa State with a week to prepare while OSU has to play Baylor.

RW

But let’s say OSU gets the forfeit from Baylor but everyone else had to play them and some, or several, lost. Should Baylor just be erased from everyone’s schedule?

What if that forfeit put OSU in the championship game?

Micah Allen

That’s exactly why forfeiting isn’t an easy solution.

MH

That’s the other thing. I try to put this situation on OSU’s hands. Imagine if OSU had a shot at playing for a Big 12 title, but had to forfeit a game due to COVID cases and got knocked out of that game because of a COVID loss. At this point, there isn’t a particularly fair way to do this it feels like.

MA

And then you can’t really erase them because they’ve already played WVU. (them being Baylor)

RW

Oh, believe you me, we can erase Baylor. We could get a lot of folks onboard with that, trust me.

MH

I think the NCAA has to do something. Maybe set a schedule for NY6 bowls and playoffs to be played in late January or February. That gives each conference a few make-up weeks to play postponed games.

MA

Honestly at this point, IMO this season is going to be a hot pile of garbage from a logistics standpoint and we’re just going to have to accept that.

RW

Matt, that is kind of what I was thinking.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of this roundtable and it’s already a hot mess.

MA

Lol what do you mean Robert, I thought we were doing pretty good staying on topic.

RW

Oh no, we are on topic, but we’ve basically just said it’s a mess and it is what it is.

MH

That would give PAC-12 and Big-10 room for error as well. It seems the most fair. As for other bowl games... who really cares, play them whenever.

MA

I agree with you and Matt, I think there are things that can be done. It’s just not gonna be pretty.

RW

How about this....What if OSU reaches the Baylor rescheduled game and is a lock for the title game regardless of the result. Do you play and take the chance of injury AND a short prep for the title game, or do you say screw it and blow it off in order to have the rest?

(and yes I know this is ridiculous and would never happen but this is a roundtable so I’m being thorough)

MA

I wonder if OSU could just say “we don’t wanna play.” And like cancel on them?

MH

Of course not. But everyone — from individual teams, to conference level, to the NCAA, has to realize they need to be absolutely as flexible as possible. Unfortunately, the NCAA has unbelievably poor leadership and the odds of them being smart are low.

MA

Because that’s exactly what I’d do if it has zero implications.

MH

If that happened, I’d just play nothing but backups and walk-ons. Hell, leave the starters in Stillwater to prep for the conference championship game.

RW

I mean, I wouldn’t even hesitate.

Matt Harris for NCAA president. He has all the solutions.

To quote Phillip from our other Slack chat...”That is NOT an oops number”

PS

Again, those are POSITIVE cases and don’t include contract tracing.

RW

Talk about a “lack of institutional control”......

MH

We should have some sort of threshold for amount of players allowed to have COVID to decide if the game is rescheduled or forfeited. That’s insane.

MA

And then blaming it on the small locker rooms are you kidding me?

(Let the record show that I never knew that the locker rooms weren’t the exact same.)

MH

Like... more than 20 players get COVID, it’s a forfeit.

PS

You’re going to try and reschedule, there is too much money at stake.

MH

Of course Baylor will try and reschedule... but the NCAA or Big 12 should say no, that’s ridiculous. If your team is going to have a blatant disregard for whether or not its athletes contract this virus, you don’t really deserve to play.

RW

***checks notes regarding said university having a blatant disregard for whether or not its athletes exhibit poor behavior***

PS

Unless you can prove it was due to a lack of following the rules, you can’t punish the team for it.

MH

I guess that’s fair enough but good Lord... 28 cases and 14 staffers is insane

RW

And this isn’t their first screw up, they had to cancel the Houston non-conf game.

PS

Considering its unlikely Baylor / Texas is going to happen in two weeks, the punishment is going to be that Baylor MIGHT get 7 games in this season.

RW

TCU is in the same kind of boat, had to cancel a non-conf game because of their own issues.

MA

Yeah I feel like you’d have to have like a video of players at a house party or something to do what you’re saying Matt.

RW

Yea, NCAA will have a total lack of leadership and this will lead to the Big 12 making the most disastrous decision possible for it’s eventual champion.

MH

This is why we need a several weeks’ break between the end of the regular season and bowl season. You can’t have one team play seven games and others play nine. Schools who are responsible don’t deserve to be punished because a team like Baylor missed a few games and came out with a better record because of it.

MA

Wait isn’t everyone getting a bowl game or something like that?

MH

No, everyone will be eligible for selection though.

MA

Lol that makes more sense.

RW

Also this....if you take the break over the holidays and come back for more football, imagine the issues there might be because of all the kids going home exposures.

MH

At that point, you just don’t let them go home I guess... but I don’t know if they could even do that, from an ethical and/or legal standpoint.

RW

I would think the kids HAVE to go home for Christmas/New Year’s. That starts the clock all over again.

PS

RW

You would HAVE to have quarantine for a period before resuming activities.

MA

Except players like Chuba who’s likely not gonna get back in to Canada @CRFF Grandfather

MH

(Shoutout to Amen, too)

RW

He might just say screw it, I’ve done what I need to do and I’m not taking any more chances.

Couldn’t blame him if things were that up in the air.

MA

No I mean like the border is straight up closed.

RW

That’s a win for me because it took a really long time for me to get “corrected” again.

I KNOW THE BORDER IS CLOSED Micah...I’m not ready for home care just yet. When I start putting metal objects in the microwave I’ll let you know.

MA

I was just saying if he has to stay in the states why not just play. I feel like draft prep wouldn’t be that less risky.

RW

Yes, point taken, but you’re talking about both he and Tylan are one play from that going bye bye.

If this looks like it will drag on with more starts and stops, I think you see some players with NFL aspirations start checking out.

MH

Okay here’s another thought... is it really the end of the world if conference games do get cancelled? I guess it is from a conference championship game standpoint, but look at the Big 10 and PAC-12. They’re going to play, like, seven regular season games or something like that. Most Big 12 teams will play 10 games. Maybe they should just cancel some games if they aren’t feasible and then evaluate who the two best teams are at the end of the season. It’s not that fair, but I think we have to keep in perspective that this is a weird year anyway. Phillip linked one of Shehan’s tweets above and that reminds me of what Shehan always says — just enjoy the fact that we even get football. Your team probably isn’t playing for a natty. Just enjoy the games you get to play, especially in a year like this.

Of course that entire thought has tons of other implications like gate revenue and other stuff at stake.... but still.

That’s the end of our convo, chime in with your own thoughts here or on Twitter.