After a week of news that seemed like the 2020 college football season was hanging by a thumbnail, there were two interesting announcements Saturday that made it seem otherwise.
Southern Illinois announced a new game for August 29th against the Big 12’s Kansas. The Salukis had their game against Wisconsin canceled earlier this month when the Big Ten announced it was going to a conference-only schedule, while the Jayhawks lost their season opener with New Hampshire when the Colonial Athletic Association opted to cancel its fall season.
The timing of the game is the curious part. The NCAA granted a waiver so that the game could be moved up to Week Zero. SIU will open fall camp on Friday to prepare for this game. Granted everything could still be canceled, but it seems odd that Jeff Long, Kansas’s athletic director would move forward to schedule a game if he thought the Big 12 was going to pull the plug on non-conference games.
BREAKING NEWS | #Salukis will open the 2020 season at Kansas on Aug. 29, as NCAA grants “Week Zero” waiver. Game replaces Wisconsin on SIU’s schedule and will earn $300,000 payout. https://t.co/cPvDtTv93F pic.twitter.com/ytGbOgIK4v
— Saluki Football (@SIU_Football) July 25, 2020
“I am thankful to the University of Kansas administration for working with us to schedule a Week Zero game in Lawrence to open up the 2020 football season,” SIU athletic director Liz Jarnigan said. “After losing the opportunity to play at Wisconsin, I’m thrilled to be able to share the news with our student-athletes and fans that we again have a complete schedule.”
SIU is scheduled to receive 300,000 dollars for the game.
Later Saturday, there was another interesting announcement from a Missouri Valley school. Missouri State announced that its season opening game with another Big 12 school, Oklahoma, had been moved to Week Zero as well.
“We really appreciate the NCAA’s waiver approval to move our game with Oklahoma up to ‘week zero,’ said MSU athletic director Kyle Moats. “The request was made purely for the safety and health of the student-athletes and will allow both teams two weeks to recover before their next games and adjust as necessary to the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic.”
BOOMER! The 2020 season opener has been moved to Aug. 29, one week earlier than originally scheduled.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) July 25, 2020
The schedule for Oklahoma now has them playing August 29th, September 12th and 26th, with a week off after each game. This may become the norm for schedules going forward in case games have to be either postponed or canceled if players contract the coronavirus.
What’s interesting about these announcements to me is two-fold. One, they both involve Big 12 teams. That conference has yet to make any decision about what they are going to do with the fall, with a decision coming sometime this week. These moves would lead you to believe they are going to at least try and start the season.
The second reason is both games involve Missouri Valley teams. Commissioner Patty Viverito has stressed the last month of not making a decision “until absolutely necessary”. Several sources have indicated that the league intends to reveal its fall plans perhaps as early as Monday. SIU and Missouri State may already have a heads up that the league is going forward.
This next week promises to be one of the biggest in college football history. It appears that at least some schools are hoping to keep the chance to play alive for a bit longer.