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OU athletics: Comparing coronavirus responses between Big 12, other Power 5 conferences

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Lincoln Riley

Lincoln Riley answers questions during a press conference Feb. 12 at the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Five days after OU football head coach Lincoln Riley announced his hope the NCAA might provide athletic activity regulations for all college football programs amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Big 12 conference has implemented rules in Riley's favor, but that hasn't solved all of the coach's problems.

The conference announced Sunday that while it will prohibit any form of live virtual workouts led by coaches, it will allow online video meetings between coaches and players for purposes such as film study and positional meetings at a maximum of two mandatory hours per week.

But even with the allotment in place, the playing field is still not entirely level between Power 5 schools. In his most recent media appearance, Riley called for changes to even the discrepancies.

"The NCAA is supposed to here in the next couple of days get us some regulations," Riley told Sportstalk 1400's Toby Rowland on March 26. "Right now it’s been by conference, and honestly it’s been all over the place."

The Big 12's ruling gives the Sooners the same online freedoms as SEC teams, who are under equal jurisdiction as of Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Pac-12 teams are being given four hours a week for similar activities for sports excluding football, giving them a time advantage over the Sooners and the rest of the Big 12.

Additionally, opponents from the ACC previously held an advantage over other schools in their ability to utilize online training during the first two weeks of COVID-19 bans and cancellations.

ACC schools also had the capacity to send equipment to players before anyone else, an allowance that Riley envied.

"You're probably talking 20, 30 percent of our guys at least don't have anything to train with," Riley said. "And so being proactive, we want to try to get things in our guys' hands so they can train and (we) haven't been able to do that yet."

The Big 12 and Pac-12 have since allowed teams to provide workout equipment to athletes for training purposes. 

Even with the chaos of the times, Riley said he remains optimistic that if the nation responds correctly to the virus and football season begins as planned, his team will be ready to play on Sept 5.

Riley said the roughly 20 practices his team records during fall camp, coupled with some summer workouts should be sufficient to prepare his squad for competition.

And while the Sooners and the Big 12 have seemingly stricter rules than the ACC and Pac-12 in response to the pandemic, OU still has an edge over Big 10 opponents who have yet to be allowed to have virtual meetings.

While the NCAA said it intends to make a decision on athlete eligibility relief on Monday, there is still no word on the supposed activity regulations Riley mentioned.

Riley said he understands the slowness of the process due to the rapid development of the situation and he maintains faith the issue will be resolved sooner rather than later.

"You get it just because of how much has changed in the short time, and I know they’ve got a lot of stuff they’ve got to figure out, our conference commissioners, AD’s, but I know that’s something that they’re trying to work through and get done here quickly," Riley said, "Because we’ve got to level the playing field and decide what we can and can’t do during this time and then we all need to abide by it."

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