Last week we discussed the different possibilities there are for attempting to have a college football season in the upcoming 2020-2021 year.
I touched on the pro’s and con’s of each idea, coming to the conclusion that eliminating non-conference play to create a shorter season might be the best option since that would allow the season to be completed before the large predicted second wave of COVID-19 came through.
For the full article on that, click right here -> http://thefranchiseok.com/scenarios-for-the-2020-college-football-season/
Today, let’s take a look at out how each of the season scenarios affects Oklahoma specifically as they look to win a sixth consecutive Big 12 title and make another College Football Playoff push.
Playing the Season Entirely in the Spring
One of the biggest ideas that has been tossed out has been pushing the season all the way back into the spring, and playing the games from February-April/May.
If the season gets entirely played in the spring, the players who are expected to be high NFL draft selections are going to have a really big decision to make on how much they want to risk their prospects by playing.
The player that immediately jumps out for Oklahoma to be affected by this is Creed Humphrey.
There was some question as to whether or not Humphrey would want to return to Norman for this upcoming season, so a season pushed into the Spring would be a big risk for him personally.
It is perfectly within reason that Humphrey could opt to just sit out and focus on the draft, and would still likely be a first round selection.
Another name who could potentially have to evaluate the risk is Ronnie Perkins.
Perkins is a behemoth, and he has serious NFL prospects. To say his NFL draft profile is already strong enough that he could just sit the season out may be reaching a bit, but guys historically do not want to take big chances with their futures.
Perkins still has another season after this one if he wants it, as does Humphrey, but I’m sure he is hoping to have a big 2020 and then go pro much like what we just saw with Kenneth Murray.
It is entirely possible that the Sooners would still be operating with a full roster if the season were to be moved to the spring, but it is also on the table that they could be forced to play without their best player on both sides of the line in Humphrey and Perkins in that situation.
Splitting the Season in Fall and Spring
Last week, I made my opinion on the suggestion of playing half the games in the Fall and the other half in the Spring very clear.
But, if that does somehow get chosen as the best option, let’s go ahead and examine what that would mean for Oklahoma.
First off, assuming it is an even 6 game split, the Fall season would end with Oklahoma playing at Iowa State and then they would have a huge lay off before hosting Bedlam.
Nothing extremely consequential comes from this schedule-wise but there some noteworthy aspects to this.
The Texas game would remain in the Fall in this scenario (albeit possibly not at the Texas State Fair), but the Bedlam game would wind up being the first game of the Spring giving it a very unusual feel of it almost being like the first game of a new campaign when Bedlam is usually reserved for the last contest of the regular season (although this year it is Game #7, of course).
The trips to Morgantown and Lubbock would also slide to the Spring, which could potentially make for much more pleasant weather conditions then if Oklahoma heads there in November as it is currently scheduled.
The big impact here, though, really comes from a personnel standpoint, because the amount of players who choose to not play the back half of the year could be a big problem.
Humphrey and Perkins we touched on already, but then any senior on the roster who puts together a good first six games of the year is going to almost certainly lean toward sitting out the remainder of the games.
There are a number of guys we could go through, but let’s just take Tre Brown just an easy example.
Brown is in his senior season, and knows he needs to have a big year to improve his NFL draft stock.
If Brown puts together a really strong first six games of the year, is it really in his best interest to risk that stock getting pummeled in the Spring by having some rough outings against the Big 12 offenses or even having an injury with no future season or scouting combine to prove himself again?
It would be a really difficult and a big decision to make that numerous players on the roster would have to do, and could leave Oklahoma missing many players who were key in the first six games for the second half of the year.
Removing Non-Conference Games
This was the idea that I thought was honestly the best for making sure we get a college football season this year and in a fashion that made sense.
Nobody wants there to be less games than normal, but I would rather eliminate the non-conference games and be sure we get the bowl season and the National Championship game in than to play all 12 regular season games and then be left with an unfinished season.
If this is what happens, than that would remove Oklahoma’s games vs Missouri State, vs Tennessee, and at Army.
Missouri State is obviously not very damaging but Tennessee and Army are two of the more marquee non-conference games in the country this upcoming year.
OU and Tennessee have gotten into a bit of a Twitter beef recently which would give this game a little bit of extra juice, plus this is the first rematch since the epic Baker Mayfield comeback win in Knoxville in 2015.
But, the Sooners will likely roll over the Volunteers in Norman.
The Army game, meanwhile, is perhaps one of the very toughest games on OU’s entire schedule.
We all remember what Army did when they came to Norman in 2018, pushing the Sooners all the way into overtime before Oklahoma narrowly escaped and avoided the massive upset.
Army gave Michigan a run for their money last year in the Big House as well, making them quickly a feared non-conference opponent for the big dogs of college football.
This game is slotted to be played at West Point…and oh man is that place going to be rocking.
You could talk me into this being the toughest game on OU’s schedule, you really could. So for it to be taken away would be a shame from a pure entertainment standpoint, but for the Sooners it could be a dodged bullet.
Lincoln Riley fears nobody so I am positive he wouldn’t see it that way, but from a purely competitive standpoint, one of OU’s toughest games would be taken off the board thus making their chances of running the table much higher.
I have also seen floated out the possibility of the teams playing one non-conference game before going into conference play.
Obviously, I am not exactly sure how that would work on which game they would play and which ones they wouldn’t.
Coaches could just see that as tune-up game before jumping into the important conference games and thus not want to play anyone in another power five conference – but, like I said, Lincoln Riley fears nobody. I don’t believe he would be against playing Tennessee or even Army as their lone non-conference game.
There is still a lot to be ironed out in that scenario, but it is one that could still possibly work as far completing the season early enough that the COVID-19 second wave doesn’t cause too many problems.
The one thing football has going for it that the other sports do not – is time. The season is still about four months away so the NCAA still has time to wait and see how everything progresses before deciding how they want to approach this season.
The Big 12 has already elected to cancel their Media Days which were scheduled for July 20 and 21, which is a shame but also probably a smart move from an unnecessary risk standpoint.
Although, for this season to start on time, teams need to be able to start practicing right around that time in mid-July.
Keep plugged in to The Franchise both on the air on the web for all the latest on college football and the Oklahoma Sooners as we head into the Summer and toward the 2020 season.