Iowa State Cyclones

Why the Big 12 is moving forward with fall football season after Big Ten, Pac-12 cancellations

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby not convinced spring season would work

Iowa and Iowa State play last September at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa and Iowa State play last September at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

AMES — When the Big Ten and Pac-12 canceled their fall sports seasons, many thought the other Power 5 conferences would follow suit.

After the Big 12 announced it would try to play football this fall with a modified schedule, commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he and the other conference commissioners talked regularly with medical experts on conference calls.

While all of the conferences had the same or similar information from the medical professionals, only the Big 12, ACC and SEC elected to move forward with fall sports.

“We spent a lot of time with the other conference commissioners and I think there was some presumption that meant that we were all going to be in lock-step,” Bowlsby said. “In the end, we all have to do what is best for our individual conferences.

“And we’re not all similarly situated. In the case of the Pac-12, they have a really tough situation in southern California with two of their flagship schools there. Each league had to make its own decision.”

Bowlsby said the Big Ten and Pac-12 announcements made him pause and evaluate the Big 12’s decision.

“We had to look at what the driving factors were for them and then we had to make our own assessments on those same criteria,” Bowlsby said. “What we heard from our experts is that some of the ramifications from the virus can be mitigated and can be properly managed. As long as that continues to be the case, they believe we can safely conduct competition and practice.

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“If we get to a place where it’s their opinion that we can no longer do that, then we will be able to pivot very quickly.”

The Big Ten and Pac-12 are formulating plans on how to make a spring season work. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm released his own detailed plan.

Bowlsby isn’t sold on a spring season working.

“I have never thought that preemptively moving to the spring made a lot of sense,” Bowlsby said. “March, April and May are the tail-end of virus season and I don’t think there’s a single indication that it’s going to be a better situation in March, April and May than it is right now.

“The other thing is if you start to play in March, then you bring players back and start preseason camp in January which is at the peak of virus season. It all sounds good to move to the spring but I don’t think it’s any more certain in the spring than it would be in the fall.”

He then qualified everything he just said.

“As a fallback option, I think the spring is viable,” Bowlsby said. “I just don’t think it’s a first choice and I don’t think it’s something to do preemptively.”

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