STILLWATER — All is quiet with Oklahoma State football on this Saturday. The Cowboys and the Big 12 Conference found out last Sunday, in fact the Big 12 made the official announcement that a spike in COVID-19 positive tests and extensive contact tracing would make it necessary to postpone the Cowboys game at Baylor set for ABC television and a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. Now the ACC and No. 5 North Carolina at Florida State will get that coveted national television exposure.
As the week went on starting with the Big 12 Coaches Teleconference and then with his own Zoom conference on Thursday, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy revealed that he and OSU athletic director Mike Holder had at least inquired with the Big 12 about scheduling another opponent. Non conference was out of the question, but with eight Big 12 teams now off for Oct. 17 there were options. No advantage really, as Oklahoma State spent the past week getting ready for an opponent they would not play.
“Coach Holder and I discussed trying to find an opponent for this week and I guess that he spoke with the Big 12,” Gundy explained. “We were unsuccessful. I’m not sure exactly how many people or coaches I should say, or organizations that we were able actually to pursue, but we had those discussions based on we’re trying to play as many games as possible while we’re healthy and we want to take advantage of those Saturdays.”
No, the Big 12 was short sighted. In this crazy and highly unusual pandemic season of 2020 where games can be cancelled as quickly as 24 hours in advance of kickoff, we also know that games can constructed in a week or less. The Big 12 has one game to offer on Saturday with Kansas (minus head coach Les Miles) at West Virginia. Because FOX has no other college football inventory it is the FOX Big Noon Game of the Week. That changes next week and ESPN trumpeted the return of the other conferences with a promo announcement during GameDay, which had virtually no mention of the Big 12. Next week the Big Ten is back and right behind are the Pac-12, Mountain West, and MAC. The week before their return the SEC and ACC were staging big games and drawing attention. The Big 12 was virtually in hibernation!
This is really unforgiveable. The Big 12 with bluebloods Oklahoma and Texas struggling needs to build team brands more than any conference out there. You can’t build brands with healthy talented teams taking the weekend off. I don’t know who is at fault for this, but it is a real failure. The SEC just showed that a powerful conference office can come in and dictate scheduling as they manuvered multiple teams in their league over the next month to fill in days and needed games to be played.
The Big 12 could have added games. They would have been televised, maybe in prime time, but the conference missed the boat. Thank goodness that FOX Sports’ Reggie Bush is pushing Oklahoma State for the top rankings on their less viewed pregame show.
Now in unrelated, but related news. What was going on in Waco. I woke up Saturday morning and saw that our own Marshall Levenson had re-tweeted this from Baylor Football on Twitter.
Okay, I know this is 2020 and I don’t expect during the pandemic that the “Baylor Line” group of freshmen that run out ahead of the team on game days at McLane Stadium be given uniforms and suit up against the Oklahoma State Cowboys just like I don’t expect the 12th Man to come out of the stands at Kyle Field and assist the Texas Aggies. However, I have to say having a big pep rally inside their stadium with the head coach addressing the crowd. I see the masks, but I also see a lack of social distancing. It’s just a bad look that you don’t play the game but you stage the pep rally. In fairness, the other homecoming events at Baylor were staged virtually, but the pep rally sure wasn’t.
That said, let’s hope that the two teams that have seemingly handled COVID-19 the best in the Big 12, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, continue to do so and will be ready to meet on FOX Sports Oct. 24 at 2:30 p.m. The Big 12 needs to build some momentum.