Kansas, Oklahoma move football openers into August. Will SEC schools follow?

University of Kansas photo / The Kansas Jayhawks will begin their second football season under Les Miles on Aug. 29, with their opener against Southern Illinois having been moved up under scheduling relief provided this week by the NCAA.

Southeastern Conference chancellors and presidents are scheduled to hold a virtual meeting Thursday, according to 247Sports.com, in which a launch date and a format for its 2020 college football season are certain to be discussed.

When it comes to the starting point, they've been given another option.

The NCAA this week granted waivers to all Football Bowl Subdivision programs that allow them to move their season openers up from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29. The change was requested by the NCAA's Football Oversight Committee in order that more scheduling flexibility could be provided to traverse upcoming weeks amid continuing concerns regarding the coronavirus.

Yahoo Sports was the first to report the NCAA's decision.

"Relief is provided on a one-time basis for the 2020 football season due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," the NCAA statement read.

Two Big 12 programs, Oklahoma and Kansas, already have announced that their season openers against Missouri State and Southern Illinois, respectively, will be held on Aug. 29. As a result, the Sooners and Jayhawks can commence preseason camp as early as this Friday.

Oklahoma's second game of the season is a scheduled visit from Tennessee on Sept. 12. The Volunteers currently are expected to open their season against visiting Charlotte on Sept. 5.

The Sooners are scheduled to play their third contest at Army on Sept. 26.

"The benefit of extra time between games will help our teams manage any variety of possible circumstances," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a released statement. "Our original schedule had an open date between the second and third games, so now we will have a span of five weeks to play three games. It provides us a more gradual approach to safely manage the conditions of these unprecedented times."

Oklahoma and Missouri State, which is now guided by former Atlanta Falcons, Arkansas and Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, were originally scheduled to vie Sept. 5.

Kansas was scheduled to open its season against New Hampshire on Sept. 5, while Southern Illinois was supposed to play at Wisconsin on Sept. 19. Those two games became casualties when New Hampshire's league, the Colonial Athletic Association, canceled its 2020 conference season, and when Wisconsin's league, the Big Ten, announced it would employ a league-only schedule.

Southern Illinois was scheduled to receive $500,000 for playing at Wisconsin and will now make $300,000 for visiting Kansas.

"I was excited when I got the news," Southern Illinois coach Nick Hill said in a release. "It gave us a shot in the arm that we needed, because it gives you something on the calendar to shoot for and play for."

Multiple Big 12 schools playing on Aug. 29 provides sharp contrast to the Pac-12, with The Mercury News in San Jose, California, reporting last week that the Pac-12's league-only competition would start Sept. 19. A Power Five league has yet to officially reveal its schedule for the upcoming season.

Ohio State cap likely

One of the leading contenders for this season's national championship, the Ohio State Buckeyes, announced Tuesday on their athletic website that attendance at Ohio Stadium "will likely amount to no more than 20% of overall capacity." Ohio Stadium seats a whopping 104,944, so crowds would be in the 21,000 range.

Ohio State also revealed that masks will be mandatory, tailgating will be banned and that concessions availability would be limited. The university stated it will try to accommodate as many of its nearly 45,000 season ticket holders and as many of its students as possible.

"We understand not all fans will feel comfortable attending games for health and safety reasons, or may not be interested in attending due to reduced capacity guidelines," the statement to ticket holders read. "Therefore, we are allowing all season ticket holders to opt out of their 2020 football season tickets commitment without longevity or eligibility penalty, if they wish."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.