Jayhawks still don’t know ‘when we’ll be able to play’

photo by: Chris Evans

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks head coach Les Miles look back to the sidelines during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA football game against Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019.

The reshaping of the Kansas football program’s 2020 schedule isn’t complete yet.

Although the Big 12 determined Monday night its teams will play 10 regular-season games in the months ahead, the final version of the revised calendar is still in the works.

The changes that are inevitable for KU’s schedule, the athletic department made clear Tuesday, won’t be announced until they are finalized.

The Big 12’s release on the 10-game format stated the conference calendar will be “solidified in the coming weeks.”

KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said in a release that the conference and its administrators researched multiple scenarios to try and identify “the safest way” to play football this year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are optimistic that the precautions and schedule changes adopted will position Kansas football and the Big 12 Conference to play a 10-game season,” Long said. “We will continue to follow the advice and recommendations of our physicians at Kansas Team Health and those of our conference member institutions.”

While the most recent version of the KU schedule calls for the Jayhawks to open the season a little more than three weeks from now, on Aug. 29 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, versus Southern Illinois, the Big 12 decided its conference schedule won’t begin until mid- or late-September — The Athletic reported it’s possible some Big 12 teams will play their league openers on Sept. 19 and others on Sept. 26.

In that scenario, with the nine-game Big 12 slate not beginning until at least three weeks after KU’s Aug. 29 opener, the Jayhawks could potentially move their matchup with Southern Illinois to a later date to avoid a prolonged break between games.

The Salukis’ schedule at the moment includes open dates on Sept. 12 and 26 — but with the Big 12 calling for nonconference games to be played before league matchups get started, a Sept. 26 KU-SIU meeting wouldn’t fit the Big 12 model.

Given reports of a Sept. 19 or 26 start for Big 12 play, KU’s Sept. 12 trip to Baylor figures to be rescheduled, too. That could potentially allow KU to face SIU on Sept. 12.

Dan Beckler, KU’s associate athletic director for public relations, told the Journal-World the athletics department won’t be commenting further on the team’s schedule at this time.

KU head coach Les Miles in a KU release described the current circumstances as “a difficult time for our football team,” because players and coaches don’t yet know what the schedule will look like or “when we’ll be able to play.”

Miles, though, stated the Jayhawks are “pleased” with the “nine plus-one” format and said KU is fortunate to have Long, “who knows the college football system as well as anyone in the country,” taking part in these decisions.

“As has been the case since the pandemic began, our football team will continue to work through the everchanging environment,” Miles said, “and line up and play football when allowed.”

KU’s nonconference matchups with Boston College and Coastal Carolina seem doubtful. The ACC already had decreased the chances of KU facing Boston College in Lawrence on Sept. 19, once the ACC decided its teams won’t play nonconference games out of state. Plus, with the Big 12 opting to keep its nonconference games at Big 12 venues, KU won’t be playing at Coastal Carolina on Sept. 26.

Earlier this summer, KU had to reschedule its original Sept. 5 opener against New Hampshire when the FCS program opted not to play football this fall. SIU replaced New Hampshire, and KU scheduled the game for Aug. 29 because SIU already had a Sept. 3 meeting with UT Martin on the books.


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