Fall Forward

Baylor's fall sports teams adjust schedules in light of pandemic.

Fall Forward

College athletics looks quite different this fall, but at least there is something to see.

In early August, the Big Ten Conference and Pac-12 Conference announced the cancellation of their football seasons. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference continued with plans to compete this fall, albeit with heavily altered schedules and an unfamiliar fluidity that comes from an unpredictable environment.

As a result, Big 12 teams are scheduled to play 10 football games this fall, facing each league opponent once with one non-conference game. Each team has at least two open dates, and the Big 12 Championship Game is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12 with the possibility of the game being delayed to Dec. 19.

“We believe this provides the best opportunity going forward,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “However, we will undoubtedly need to be flexible as we progress through the season in order to combat the challenges that lie ahead.”

As of early September, the College Football Playoff planned to reveal its first rankings Nov. 17 with Dec. 20 targeted as selection day for the four-team playoff and bowl games.

The coronavirus pandemic affected other fall sports, as well. NCAA President Mark Emmert announced Aug. 13 the cancellation of all NCAA Championships for fall sports. One week later, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors announced that it will work to host fall sport championships in the spring of 2021. Plans for those championships are to be determined.

The Board of Directors also approved a blanket waiver granting all Division I fall sport student-athletes an additional year of eligibility and an additional year to complete it. The moves were made because more than 50 percent of NCAA institutions will not compete in fall sports this year.

Yossiana Pressley
Yossiana Pressley

That is not the case in the Big 12 as women’s volleyball, women’s soccer and men’s and women’s cross country will stage seasons. Like football, those seasons will look different than normal.

Defending Big 12 champion and national semifinalist Baylor Volleyball boasts three preseason all-conference selections, including preseason Big 12 Player of the Year and reigning AVCA National Player of the Year Yossiana Pressley. Big 12 volleyball teams will not play non-conference matches this season and instead play two games against each league opponent, both in successive days at the same location.

“I’m thankful that the Big 12 has been able to press on, and we can move forward,” Baylor Volleyball Head Coach Ryan McGuyre said in a preseason press conference. “It’s a different schedule than any one we’ve had before. It presents some challenges, but it also presents a lot of things that we can highlight and be excited about.”

Big 12 soccer teams also will play only conference matches — one against each league opponent. Men’s and women’s cross country teams are scheduled to compete in two October meets before the Big 12 Championships, held Oct. 30 in Lawrence, Kansas. Women’s golf is scheduled to compete in four two-day events this fall.