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NCAA waiver could allow KU football to bring back seniors for bonus season in 2021

Kansas wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. (5) scores a touchdown in front of Oklahoma State safety Jarrick Bernard (24) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Kansas wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. (5) scores a touchdown in front of Oklahoma State safety Jarrick Bernard (24) in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) by Associated Press

The NCAA is doing what plenty of people wish they could — pretending like 2020 never happened.

At least that’s the approach its Division I Board of Directors is taking with eligibility for its fall sports athletes. The board this past week officially gifted football players and other D-I fall athletes nationwide a blanket waiver to receive an additional year of eligibility, what with the COVID-19 pandemic upturning some schedules and canceling others.

One bizarre consequence of this move by the NCAA, though, is that a struggling program such as Kansas football could hypothetically have all of its seniors play 10 games this fall and then invite them back to do it again in 2021, because seniors will be allowed to return and not count against a team’s roster or scholarship limits.

It’s unlikely that it would play out to that extreme, because no athlete is guaranteed financial aid or a scholarship with that extra year of eligibility. As detailed in the AP’s report on the news, those decisions will be up to each athletic department.

Surely there will be some seniors Les Miles and his coaching staff will want to have back, and some that they will allow to move on.

Likewise, just because a player has the option of an additional season doesn’t mean he’ll want to take it. Think back to last year’s KU team. Quarterback Carter Stanley was very open at the end of his senior year that he wished he had more eligibility left so he could keep playing for Miles and offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon. But would someone like Hakeem Adeniji want to return for another year when he could go to the NFL and get paid for all the collisions and hard work offensive linemen endure?

What happens in the months ahead will no doubt shape how KU approaches these unique circumstances. But why not, if it’s possible, bring back a talented trio of receivers such as Andrew Parchment, Stephon Robinson Jr. and Kwamie Lassiter II?

There’s lots to sort out — and plenty of time for that — over the course of the next year with the ramifications of this decision from the NCAA, and it goes much farther than the players who are seniors this year. Perhaps the even crazier part of this is: freshmen who play this fall could still potentially have four more years of eligibility left when the 2021 season arrives.

So KU coaches this year don’t have to worry about how they manage freshmen who they were planning on redshirting. It’s just a freebie. Play them as much as you want. They’ll still be freshmen a year from now. (And the NCAA still will have to figure out how to handle the aftermath of these numbers and how they impact rosters for the next several years.)

The NCAA granted this blanket waiver to clean up any potential eligibility confusion ahead of time, in case entire seasons end up being cut short or canceled due to the pandemic. Remember: many D-I fall athletes, in non-football sports especially, still don’t know what their seasons will look like this year. Not every conference is forging ahead like the Big 12, ACC and SEC.

If COVID-19 doesn’t derail football plans this fall for the FBS leagues, KU would have the opportunity to bring back a number of experienced players for a bonus season.

Here’s a look at some KU football seniors who could potentially play an extra year in 2021:

• Ricky Thomas, S

• Andrew Parchment, WR

• Stephon Robinson Jr., WR

• Thomas MacVittie, QB

• Kwamie Lassiter II, WR

• Kyle Mayberry, CB

• Kyron Johnson, OLB

• Denzel Feaster, OLB

• Dru Prox, LB

• Api Mane, OL

• Malik Clark, OL

• Logan Klusman, LS

• Adagio Lopeti, OL

• Antione Frazier, OL

• Chris Hughes, OL

• Kyle Thompson, P

• James Sosinski, TE

• Jack Luavasa, TE

• Sam Burt, DL

Reply 3 comments from Pius Waldman Dirk Medema Dale Rogers

Jayhawks share standout moments from preseason scrimmage

Kansas receiver Kwamie Lassiter II reaches to bring in a pass during a preseason practice in August of 2020.

Kansas receiver Kwamie Lassiter II reaches to bring in a pass during a preseason practice in August of 2020.

Ask Les Miles about what he saw in his team’s first preseason scrimmage and the Kansas football coach will intentionally keep his answer vague and broad.

You know, just to be sure no one outside of the closed practice somehow discovers some nugget or piece of insight that would provide a glimpse at the Jayhawks’ plans, strengths or weaknesses.

“Offensively I think we moved the football well,” Miles said of the Wednesday session. “Pooka (Williams) ran the football well. The quarterbacks did the things that we asked them to do. I think offense won in the short term against the defense.”

Players are typically more revealing in their answers about scrimmage situations, even if they have been coached up to not divulge much, either.

Sure enough, the KU players who spoke with the media Thursday during the program’s first Q&A of the preseason actually came through with a behind-the-scenes look at the scrimmage.

Here’s what a few key players had to say.

• Thomas MacVittie, senior QB

Asked about the highlights from this week’s scrimmage day, MacVittie didn’t boast about any of his throws or start his answer by bringing up the passing game. Instead the QB shared how impressed he was with another part of the offense.

“We have depth at running back, no doubt,” MacVittie declared. “Our line held up great, and then we got the ball down field.”

MacVittie said his position coach and KU’s offensive coordinator, Brent Dearmon, teaches the quarterbacks there’s a rhyme and rhythm to everything they do offensively, and that’s why the QBs have to listen closely to every piece of advice Dearmon provides.

“You have your reads, you have your drop and if you stray away from that you’re gonna be late or you’re gonna be early,” MacVittie explained.

• Miles Kendrick, junior QB

The man competing with MacVittie for KU’s starting job, Kendrick thought the offense showed some promising signs in the scrimmage, too.

“We were aggressive,” Kendrick said of what stood out to him. “There were some shots early that we took and they counted, and we scored from those shots and being aggressive. I think that’s going to be a big part of the offense, being aggressive but taking calculated risks.”

Kendrick also brought up some of Dearmon’s philosophy while discussing what worked in the scrimmage.

“When you get the opportunity, Coach Dearmon always preaches it, you want to hurt the defense,” Kendrick said. “That’s what we want to do.”

• Stephon Robinson Jr., senior WR

Robinson thought the first deep shot the offense completed was the biggest highlight of the scrimmage.

That particular play ended with senior receiver Andrew Parchment beating the secondary and hauling in a bomb.

“It got us going real quick at the start of the scrimmage, so that was a highlight for me, getting ready and going out there right away,” Robinson said of Parchment’s initial chunk yardage contribution.

As for what he did individually that might have been a highlight, Robinson took his answer in another direction.

“I’m really hard on myself with critiquing myself, so I always feel like I can do more. I feel like I did my job to my best ability, but I can always do something better,” Robinson explained of his thinking. “There was a play I caught a slant and I could’ve gone the distance, but I got tackled. I didn’t get a lot of YAC on that play, so I can improve on that.”

• Pooka Williams, junior RB

KU’s star offensive player in the backfield, Williams didn’t point to specific highlights or big plays that resonated with him in retrospect.

“We had a lot of standout plays and fundamental plays, too,” Williams said. “If we didn’t make them it would have been different.”

• Denzel Feaster, senior LB

The only defensive player made available for interviews this week, Feaster said some of the plays that impressed him most came from Parchment in the passing game.

“Obviously AP’s catches, man,” Feaster said. “That guy’s completely explosive.”

But Feaster spoke highly of another position group for KU’s offense, as well.

“I love our backs, personally, just because of how they run the ball,” Feaster said, adding when they have the ball there’s a physicality to their rushes. “To me that’s a highlight. When my backs run physical regardless of size, that shows heart.”

Feaster couldn’t leave out the defense, though. He said watching younger players in particular proved satisfying.

“Nick Channel had a great scrimmage, great highlights,” Feaster revealed of the sophomore safety from Wichita.

Asked to confirm his head coach’s assessment that the Jayhawks’ offense won the day, Feaster delivered a veteran response.

“Whatever Coach Miles said was right,” Feaster offered.

Reply 2 comments from Dirk Medema Michael Maris

KU football preseason camp thoughts (from afar)

Members of the Kansas football team circle around two linemen about to compete in the Jayhawk drill on head coach Les Miles' cue.

Members of the Kansas football team circle around two linemen about to compete in the Jayhawk drill on head coach Les Miles' cue.

Adapting common approaches to various aspects of life has become routine in the time of COVID-19.

No one likes the new normal, but most of us grin and bear it as best we can while following guidelines that hopefully make this all go away before long.

One very minor consequence of the pandemic in the grand scheme of life is the fact that Kansas football preseason practices are completely closed to the media.

In other Augusts — in the long, long ago, also known as those years that took place before 2020 — local journalists would get some peeks inside the Jayhawks’ closed practices. Nothing huge, just 15 to 30 minutes here and there, depending on the paranoia level of the head coach at the time.

Because those opportunities for insight haven’t been possible this summer, let’s use some of the images captured by the KU football program’s social media team as a jumping off point for some preseason camp thoughts.

• Oh, hey. Running backs.

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It was totally appropriate the first images from camp that showed up back on July 31 included not only Les Miles, the man KU diehards hope can turn this program around, but the most talented skill player on the roster, Pooka Williams.

The offense could very well go only as far as Pooka can carry it. But this photo also reminded me that the junior back who is a known commodity also could have some huge help in his position group.

Just behind Williams in that Day 1 drill stood Velton Gardner — I also kind of love that he’s wearing No. 0 this year. There could be a nice stable of backs for offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon to feature with Williams. Gardner had some promising moments as a freshman in 2019. I’m also interested to see who emerges as the third back. Torry Locklin, Amauri Pesek-Hickson and Daniel Hishaw Jr. all could be candidates.

• Will a freshman receiver become a key target?

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Seeing in person how big and fast new players are always is one of the most intriguing parts of viewing camp periods in person.

A guy I would have had my eyes on is freshman receiver Lawrence Arnold (No. 2). KU receivers coach Emmett Jones raved about the young wideouts he’s adding to his room via the 2020 recruiting class, and Arnold seems to have the body and athleticism to make it easier to crack the rotation early.

Arnold is 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds and could become an important target, especially when KU’s talented veteran receivers need a breather.

• Speaking of receivers …

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KU should have some real burners at its disposal in the passing game.

Dearmon and whomever wins the quarterback battle should enjoy finding different ways to get the ball to seniors Andrew Parchment, Stephon Robinson Jr. and Kwamie Lassiter II in space.

If the offense is clicking, watching those three run away from defensive backs will be commonplace.

Reply 2 comments from Dirk Medema Len Shaffer

Les Miles sees consistency from Jayhawks during stop-and-go preseason

Kansas head coach Les Miles calls out players to go head-to-head in the Jayhawk drill during practice on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.

Kansas head coach Les Miles calls out players to go head-to-head in the Jayhawk drill during practice on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. by Nick Krug

There was no mention of quarterbacks, position battles or depth charts, but Kansas football coach Les Miles finally spoke publicly about the Jayhawks’ preseason camp on Monday night.

The Jayhawks, now with an official season-opening date and opponent, resumed practicing in pads and prepping for a season during a pandemic.

It felt like all of college football was sitting in a holding pattern just a week ago, Miles told KU’s in-house reporting outfit after Monday’s practice. Miles has yet to be made available for interviews with local media outlets this summer, though that is expected to change later this week.

“We know that the decisions ... are being made our on our behalf and for us,” Miles said, referring to the schedule changes and pauses as the Big 12 prepared to try for a 10-game season during the COVID-19 pandemic. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I promise you this: I would want to play football. And I like the idea that somebody with a doctoral degree (medical advisers to the conference) is making decisions for us in light of how much everybody in this field likes football.”

Miles said that these days, there are a lot of things to worry about that administrators and teams can't control. But he also said the Jayhawks have managed to maintain a good attitude through it all, including the start and stop of the preseason, and he thinks that’s something they can hold onto.

KU had its spring football schedule canceled because of the pandemic and also had to pause summer workouts after positive COVID-19 tests within the program. And that was before the Jayhawks opened camp July 31 with plans to open the season on Aug. 29, only to see that date pushed back to Sept. 12 and the opponent changed to Coastal Carolina.

Miles said players powered through a crisis over the course of the past several months and had to deal with “a series of decisions that are made on your behalf that you have no way to affect.”

When the Jayhawks have practiced — they spent much of the previous week doing walkthroughs and some drills without pads — KU’s second-year coach said the players have made the sessions productive.

“You have to have that consistency of wanting to fight and dig deep,” Miles said.

The coach said the Jayhawks will have some scrimmage periods later this week that will allow them to go through a lot of situations and get players important reps.

“If we can get that done and maintain some health,” Miles said, “we’re going to like where we’re at.”

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What happens if an outbreak forces a Big 12 team to miss a game?

Kansas running back Velton Gardner (18) looks to make a move on Baylor Bears cornerback Byron Hanspard Jr. (25) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Velton Gardner (18) looks to make a move on Baylor Bears cornerback Byron Hanspard Jr. (25) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

While planning a college football schedule the Big 12 hopes to play to completion during a pandemic, the conference tried to build in a little wiggle room.

The Big 12’s programs might need some flexibility after all, if a team or two have to suspend play in the middle of the season due to a COVID-19 outbreak (see: MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals).

As of this point there is no specific figure in terms of a number of infected players threshold that the Big 12 has established as a tipping point for removing a team from competition, even though commissioner Bob Bowlsby said during his media teleconference earlier in the week that the league basically expects positive cases.

Whether a team dealing with infected players is able to take the field on a given Saturday could have more to do with circumstances than a specific number of cases.

“If all your quarterbacks live together and they’re all in the same conference room and they all are all the sudden infected, it’s hard to go forward,” Bowlsby provided as an example.

So what happens exactly when a Big 12 team doesn’t have enough healthy bodies to compete?

KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said the schedule is laid out in a way the league’s administrators hope will provide some solutions.

“If a team is has an outbreak and can't play, there are options to move those games later in the season and hopefully make them up,” Long said, “and that's how they built some spacing into the season to be able to do that.”

Each Big 12 team has two bye weeks during its regular season calendar, which starts Sept. 26 and is supposed to wrap up Dec. 5.

The Jayhawks are scheduled to play at Baylor Sept. 26 and in Lawrence versus Oklahoma State on Oct. 3. Then comes KU’s first bye, on Oct. 10. It’s an open date for Baylor and Oklahoma State, too. So If one of those games couldn’t happen during the first couple weeks of league play, it could potentially be rescheduled.

“A game can be canceled both because of an outbreak we have or the opposing team we're getting ready to play,” Long said. “But either way, we would try to make that up within the confines of the Big 12 football season.”

Doing so could prove more difficult the deeper into the season these teams get. KU plays four consecutive weeks after its first Big 12 bye. If everything doesn’t go perfectly for both KU and those opponents during that time, you only have the Nov. 14 bye date, which is open for KU and its four opponents from Oct. 17-Nov. 7 (West Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State and Oklahoma), to make it up.

If a team does have an outbreak that forces it to miss one game, what is the likelihood of the timing working out for it not to miss the following game, too?

“As we get later in the season,” Bowlsby admitted, “there may not be an opportunity for (rescheduling).”

The Big 12 wisely gave itself some potential for modification by slapping an “or” on its Big 12 Championship Game, which could be Dec. 12 or Dec. 19.

So if some teams still needed — or wanted — to make up a game late in the year, they could possibly make it happen on Dec. 12 if the Big 12 so desires to push back the title game a week.

The conference is miles away from pulling off its plan, but the administrators hope these built in open weeks for rescheduling could help make it possible.

KU’s 2020 Big 12 schedule

Sept. 26 — at Baylor

Oct. 3 — Oklahoma State

Oct. 10 — open

Oct. 17 — at West Virginia

Oct. 24 — at Kansas State

Oct. 31 — Iowa State

Nov. 7 — at Oklahoma

Nov. 14 — open

Nov. 21 — Texas

Nov. 28 — TCU

Dec. 5 — at Texas Tech

The Big 12's 2020 football schedule.

The Big 12's 2020 football schedule.

Reply 1 comment from Dane Pratt

Jayhawks eager to practice again

Kansas football head coach Les Miles wears a mask while walking around during an early August practice in the team's indoor facility.

Kansas football head coach Les Miles wears a mask while walking around during an early August practice in the team's indoor facility. by Photo courtesy of KU Athletics

On a busy Wednesday in the Big 12, University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long spent a portion of his afternoon over at the football team’s indoor practice facility addressing the Jayhawks.

Hours after the conference officially announced its plans to try and play fall sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, Long gave the players an update of sorts while his audience sat spread out 10 feet apart and wearing masks.

Long told reporters during a video conference he left the session certain of one thing: the Jayhawks are eager to get back to practice.

Originally scheduled to open the season Aug. 29 versus Southern Illinois, KU was able to start its preseason camp earlier than many FBS programs throughout the country this summer. But a week into those preparations head coach Les Miles and his staff had to press pause because it became clear the Jayhawks wouldn’t be able to play that soon, with the Big 12 adopting a 10-game schedule and conference games starting later in September.

While all the possibilities got sorted out and the Big 12 ultimately decided to keep playing football after the Big Ten and Pac-12 opted out, the Jayhawks weren’t able to practice.

“They've been doing walkthroughs for the last several days. I don't think they've had their uniforms on,” Long shared. “When that date got moved back there was no reason to move forward with all the padded practices and such. So now we'll get back more to — Coach Miles will put together a plan, and I haven't seen it, but I'm sure he's got a dozen different plans of when they'll come back and when they start practicing in shells and then pads and getting ready for the start of the season.”

As of Thursday the Jayhawks still had five-plus weeks to go before their new season opener, set for Sept. 12 (reportedly versus Coastal Carolina).

NCAA rules limit how many times teams can practice during preseason camp, so KU took the necessary measures to avoid any missteps.

Long said KU football didn’t have to abandon preseason camp, Miles and his staff just had to adjust.

“They went with much more time with walkthroughs and non-padded practices. But again, as we get back to closer to a normal fall camp situation — which I don't know if it's today, tomorrow, this weekend — he'll start that progression of getting into pads and padded practices,” Long said.

Miles has yet to be made available for interviews this summer.

“We had already done the five-day acclimatization period long before. We don't have to start that again,” Long pointed out, regarding a map teams have to follow before going into full-blown practices in the preseason. “We've already passed through that. So really, Coach Miles has some flexibility. And candidly looking in, I think he's given our players a good break, and we'll build them to be ready for that first game.”

On Thursday afternoon, as seen on KU football's social media accounts, the Jayhawks were going through drills without pads.

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Long joked that the Jayhawks were more interested in getting back to regular camp practices than listening to him. Still, he said speaking with the team lifted his spirits.

“It made all the work behind the scenes here even that much more worthwhile,” Long said.

KU’s AD considered it a good starting point for a revised season, too.

“It feels good to be able to provide what we believe is a safe path forward for the young men to get to play college football,” he said.

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Schedule uncertainty led to preseason pause for Jayhawks

Kansas linebacker Kyron Johnson works on technique with fellow position player Dru Prox during practice on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.

Kansas linebacker Kyron Johnson works on technique with fellow position player Dru Prox during practice on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. by Nick Krug

It’s been a strange preseason for the Kansas football team to say the least.

As recently as Tuesday it remained to be seen whether the Big 12 would try to play this fall. Then came some good news for the Jayhawks that the conference would keep at it, even though the Big Ten and Pac-12 had shut down shop.

Even before that there was the uncertainty of the season opener. The Jayhawks were set to kick off Les Miles’ second season versus Southern Illinois on Aug. 29. But the Big 12 decided the first week of August it wasn’t moving forward with a full 12-game season for its teams, which meant KU’s calendar would need some retooling.

One tricky aspect of that for KU was the Jayhawks already had opened preseason camp.

You may have noticed that the football team’s Twitter account, which was sharing photos and the like from practices, hasn’t done anything of that nature since Aug. 3.

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It makes sense, though, right? The NCAA only allows teams to practice a certain amount of times during camp leading up to their respective season openers.

KU football basically had to hit pause on practices until a date for the opener (still likely versus SIU) is finalized.

We’ll get a better sense of when the Jayhawks will get back to preseason practices soon, with the Big 12 releasing its revised schedules Wednesday.

And then we’ll likely finally get to hear from Miles and his players, who have not been made available for interviews this summer, after beginning practices on July 31.

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Will they or won’t they?: Feasibility of college football season looking more bleak

Kansas head coach Les Miles met with Indiana State head coach Curt Mallory after the game Saturday afternoon at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019.

Kansas head coach Les Miles met with Indiana State head coach Curt Mallory after the game Saturday afternoon at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. by Mike Gunnoe

The fate of the 2020 college football season remains very much up in the air here in the second week of August, not too far away from what was supposed to be the opening weekend of action.

As administrators in conferences across the country try to determine if they think it will be safe enough to go through with a season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports and rumors are flying at breakneck speed. And sometimes prevailing sentiments about what will happen next slam on the brakes or completely hit reverse.

While we wait to hear about when — or if — the Kansas football season will finally kick off (it won’t be Aug. 29 as planned) it’s important to remember the decisions being made and discussions being had by other Power Five conferences could influence what happens here in Big 12 country and ultimately to KU. So we’ll keep track of it all here until everything gets sorted out.

Les Miles’ second season at KU has to start sometime doesn’t it?

Massive move by Big Ten

As outlets first began reporting was possible a couple days ago, the Big Ten moved forward Tuesday afternoon with its decision to call off the 2020 season.

The hope for now appears to be to play the season sometime in the spring of 2021, assuming enough has changed in this country and its dealing with COVID by then.

A postponement to me makes a lot more sense than completely canceling everything. In a best case scenario for these teams and their athletes, maybe a full 12-game regular season could even be achieved by then. Maybe. Obviously so much can change between now and then.

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“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a release announcing the conference’s decision. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."

Obviously the Big Ten didn't just cancel its fall football season, but also olympic sports, including soccer, volleyball and cross country.

PAC-12 postpones too

In less than two hours Tuesday afternoon college football lost 40% of its Power Five.

As reports earlier in the week indicated were possible, the Pac-12’s administrators and medical experts had similar worries about COVID-19’s impact on players and punted on playing in 2020, too.

Yahoo’s Pete Thamel, as well as Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde reported prior to any official word from the Pac-12 that football’s biggest west coast teams, just like their counterparts in the Big Ten, hope to play football in the spring as well.

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The Pac-12 announced later none of its athletic programs would be competing for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year.

“All of the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors understand the importance of this decision, and the disappointment it will create for our student-athletes, the coaches, support staff and all of our fans,” Michael H. Schill, president of the University of Oregon, stated in the conference’s news release. “Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year.”

SEC and ACC not budging

The decisions of the Big Ten and Pac-12 didn’t have any immediate impact on the SEC or ACC, hours ahead of a Big 12 teleconference that figured to shape what’s next for KU’s conference.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey gave no indication of a forthcoming pause or cancellation of the season in that conference.

“I look forward to learning more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 leadership to take actions today,” Sankey stated. “I remain comfortable with the thorough and deliberate approach that the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for our student-athletes.”

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The ACC sent out a statement with similar language.

“We understand the need to stay flexible and be prepared to adjust as medical information and the landscape evolves,” the ACC’s message concluded.

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Could Nebraska still play this fall?

Whether it’s responsible to play college football during a pandemic has become a polarizing subject for some. In Nebraska, the Corn Huskers aren’t too pleased with the decision to pull the plug on the 2020 season.

Within minutes of the Big Ten announcing its decision, Nebraska chancellor Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska system president Ted Carter, Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos and Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost released a joint statement that included the following:

• “We are very disappointed in the decision … as we have been and continue to be ready to play.”

• “Safety comes first. Based on the conversations with our medical experts, we continue to strongly believe the absolute safest place for our student-athletes is within the rigorous safety protocols, testing procedures and the structure and support provided by Husker Athletics.”

• “We will continue to consult with medical experts and evaluate the situation as it emerges. We hope it may be possible for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to compete.”

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This came a day after Frost got out in front of the coming news, stating in a press conference that the Huskers would like to play this fall against non-Big Ten competition if it came to that.

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Is such a radical move even possible? If other conferences forge ahead with a fall season, how many teams would be interested in adding another game to an already uncertain season? It would be fascinating if Nebraska played 10 games against non-Big Ten teams. But we’re still a long way from knowing if that will even be an option for them.

Reply 2 comments from Len Shaffer Njjayhawk

Say What?: Some KU football schedule and QB chatter with RCST’s Nick Schwerdt

You can find Tuesday's discussion about the KU football schedule and the Jayhawks' quarterback competition at the 1:13:19 mark of the latest episode of Rock Chalk Sports Talk.

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Ranking KU football’s 2020 matchups, from most to least winnable

Kansas wide receiver Andrew Parchment during an NCAA football game against Coastal Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Kansas wide receiver Andrew Parchment during an NCAA football game against Coastal Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

If the oddsmakers in Las Vegas are correct, the second season of the Les Miles era at the University of Kansas won’t be that much more successful than his debut run with the Jayhawks in 2019.

Consider the key players KU has lost from last season’s 3-9 team and you quickly realize why Caesars Entertainment placed the Jayhawks’ over/under at 3.5 wins for the 2020 season.

Miles and his staff will have to replace such key contributors as quarterback Carter Stanley, left tackle Hakeem Adeniji, receiver Daylon Charlot, defensive backs Hasan Defense, Mike Lee, Jeremiah McCullough and Bryce Torneden, linebacker Azur Kamara and center Andru Tovi. And because the COVID-19 crisis wiped out spring practices, Miles and his assistants won’t have their typical assessment and development periods this offseason to get all those and other roster decisions figured out.

Let’s assume that the college football season starts on time and features its normal 12-game schedule. What’s KU’s path to a better record in Year 2 for Miles?

Here’s a ranking of KU’s games, from most to least winnable, to provide a clearer picture:

New Hampshire (Sept. 5): Season openers tend to provide KU football with its best chances at victories and this year is no different. UNH is the Jayhawks’ lone FCS opponent on the calendar, and KU has actually won three of its last four openers thanks to that scheduling — KU beat Rhode Island in 2016, Southeast Missouri State in 2017 and Indiana State in 2019, but lost to Nicholls in overtime in 2018.

At Coastal Carolina (Sept. 26): No, the Jayhawks still don’t win Big 12 road games, but they have proven the past couple of years they can actually travel and head home with a victory in nonconference play. They will look to make it three years in a row of winning on the road in September when they head to Conway, S.C., for their nonconference finale versus the Chanticleers. Throw in the revenge factor for the KU veterans who lost at home to Coastal Carolina last season and you’re looking at a very winnable road game.

Boston College (Sept. 19): The Jayhawks delivered one of their signature performances in Boston last year, and while that 48-24 trouncing will be difficult to duplicate, any type of win against a Power Five opponent will suffice for Kansas. As usual, KU will need as many wins as possible out of conference, because the Big 12 has proven brutal for the program the past 11 seasons.

TCU (Nov. 28): The Horned Frogs dismantled the Jayhawks in 2019, but it’s just hard to put any road game higher on this list considering KU hasn’t won a Big 12 game in an opponent’s venue since 2008. Kansas gets TCU on Senior Day in Lawrence this season. And for whatever reason, the Frogs’ trips to KU have been accompanied by drama in recent years.

Iowa State (Oct. 3): Kansas actually led late in the fourth quarter at ISU last season in one of the the Jayhawks’ better Big 12 showings. But, according to Caesars, coach Matt Campbell’s Cyclones project as an eight-win team in 2020, so this looks like no easy matchup.

Oklahoma State (Oct. 17): Is this game actually all that winnable? It’s hard to say so far out from the season. But with KU’s defense a major question mark and the Cowboys bringing back star running back Chuba Hubbard, it seems like the Jayhawks could be significant underdogs in this one.

At West Virginia (Oct. 24): The way the schedule broke this year, KU actually has to face all of what Caesars projects as the seventh- through ninth-best teams in the Big 12 on the road. The longest trip KU makes in conference looks like the most winnable, though. WVU coach Neal Brown didn’t take on as massive of a rebuilding project as Miles did at KU, but the Mountaineers went 5-7 in 2019, including a 29-24 win in Lawrence. Vegas set WVU’s over/under at 5.5

At Texas Tech (Nov. 14): The Red Raiders were the only Big 12 team to lose to KU in 2019, Matt Wells’ first year as Tech’s head coach. But the Jayhawks would have to win in Lubbock for the first time since 2001 to make it two in a row in the series. Tech’s over/under is 6.

• Texas (Nov. 7): Last year’s 50-48 shootout between KU and Texas in Austin was epic. It was also the Jayhawks’ first game with offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon and the UT defense was dealing with a number of injury issues, so going toe to toe with a program that is in such better position than KU would be quite a feat in 2020. UT is projected as the league’s second-best team, with 9 wins.

• At Baylor (Sept. 12): The Bears won’t be as impressive this year as they were in Matt Rhule’s third and final season. But it’s difficult to think of KU facing the Bears and dismiss the way BU eviscerated the Jayhawks in the 2019 finale, 61-6. Plus, this one — in Week 2 oddly enough — is on the road and KU never has won in Waco. The Bears’ over/under was set at 8.

At Kansas State (Oct. 10): Bill Snyder finally retired in late 2018, but the Wildcats’ emphasis on beating KU didn’t depart with the legendary head coach. K-State’s new leader, Chris Klieman, and his staff showed they plan to keep that trend alive. The final score for the first Sunflower Showdown between Miles and Klieman read K-State 38, KU 10, but the game wasn’t even that close. The Jayhawks haven’t won in this rivalry series since 2008. K-State’s over/under is 6.

At Oklahoma (Nov. 21): The Sooners, as usual, should be the class of the Big 12, even in what would qualify as a down year for OU if it hits Caesars projection of 10 wins. Kansas hasn’t defeated the Sooners since 1997 and it will probably be a long time before anyone enters a season expecting the Jayhawks will have much of a chance of knocking off the Sooners.

None by Chris Fallica

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