Limited Big 12 football schedule further endangers USF opener at Texas

For now, the Bulls are still set to open their season Sept. 5 in Austin.
USF is supposed to take on Texas in the season opener, a game that is looking like more of a long shot by the day.
USF is supposed to take on Texas in the season opener, a game that is looking like more of a long shot by the day. [ ERIC GAY | Associated Press (2019) ]
Published Aug. 4, 2020|Updated Aug. 4, 2020

USF’s season opener at Texas became a bit more imperiled Monday night with the Big 12′s announcement it has opted for a 10-game regular season including one non-league game per team.

The Longhorns already lost one of their three non-league games, Sept. 12 at LSU, when the SEC voted last week to play a 10-game, league-only schedule.

Their other two non-conference games: Sept. 5 against USF and Sept. 19 vs. Texas-El Paso, both in Austin. Though the league indicated its schedule would be solidified in the “coming weeks,” it anticipates starting its season between mid- and late-September, with non-conference games held before the nine-game league slate.

Chip Brown of reported Monday evening the Longhorns are likely to keep the UTEP game.

USF is coming off a 4-8 season, but has replenished effectively via the transfer portal and has been universally lauded for its hiring of Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott to replace Charlie Strong. UTEP is coming off consecutive 1-11 seasons.

USF is set to receive $1.9 million for its trip to Austin. The Longhorns would still owe the Bulls that amount if they fail to play the game, according to terms of the schools’ contract. Texas, however, could attempt to reach a settlement with USF (including rescheduling the game) or try to exercise the contract’s force majeure clause due to COVID-19 and the decision of the Big 12 presidents.

That clause states: Neither party shall be considered in default of this Agreement for the failure of its men’s intercollegiate football team to appear and participate in a GAME for reasons due solely to act of God, natural disaster, national emergency, labor disputes, war, order of a state or federal court, or similar events beyond the control of the party that fails to appear.

Related: Will force majeure become the newest buzz phrase in college football?

The Big 12 becomes the fifth and final Power Five league to significantly reduce its regular-season schedule. Three conferences (SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten) are playing league-only slates with no non-conference games.

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The American Athletic Conference is expected to announce a decision regarding its 2020 schedules some time this week. USF already has lost one game, its Sept. 12 home opener against Bethune-Cookman, due to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference suspending fall sports in ’20.