In order to account for student-athletes who will have to miss games because of positive coronavirus tests, contact tracing and regular injuries, the Big 12 determined on Friday that teams with at least 53 players available — including seven offensive linemen, four interior defensive linemen and one quarterback — must play or it will be considered a forfeit.
If teams have fewer than 53 players available and don’t meet the position benchmarks, the game would be declared a no-contest if it can’t be moved to a later date. Teams that fall below 53 players — but are still able to meet the position benchmarks — have the option to play the game.
“It’s not intended to eliminate teams as a result of how many players they have,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said, “it’s intended to determine the outcome of games based upon your ability to prepare for the game and execute the game plan.”
Sources in the SEC and ACC told ESPN both conferences are working to determine similar benchmarks for a minimum roster size.
The Big 12’s nine-plus-one schedule model for this year includes a full round-robin among conference teams, plus one nonconference game. The schedule provides each team with two bye dates, plus the option to move the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship back one week to Dec. 19 if needed. Open dates will be used for rescheduling games in the event a team does not have enough players to compete.
The nonconference portion of the Big 12 schedule begins next weekend, with conference play starting Sept. 26. Earlier Friday, TCU announced that its game against SMU will not be played on Sept. 11 as planned due to positive coronavirus tests.