With conferences like the Big 10 and the Pac-12 opting out of playing non-conference games due to COVID-19 concerns, OU athletic director Joe Castiglione told Toby Rowland on SportsTalk1400 Friday morning that the Sooners are about to get into the important stages of preparing for the season. Potentially adjusting the season only adds to that urgency.
The Sooners petitioned the NCAA to move their season opener against Missouri State from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29, Zero Week. Castiglione said the NCAA is still deciding on whether or not to approve the waiver.
"Very soon," Castiglione said when asked when he needs the NCAA to make a decision on the waiver. "I don't want to pinpoint a day, but we're starting to get into the 'importance range.'"
One thing that Castiglione is confident in ahead of the season opener is testing protocol for both teams. Castiglione told Rowland that Missouri State is committed to using OU's test kits and the OU lab for COVID-19 testing ahead of the game.
"(Missouri State has) already committed to using our testing kits, our testing protocols and the tests themselves being done in our lab," Castiglione said. "And so to that end, we're going to be assisting them with the testing."
If the game moving to Aug. 29 is approved, the Sooners will have two bye weeks in between their first three games of the season. Castiglione said this will help with making sure testing is more plentiful for players and staff in between games, ensuring a better chance of a smooth start to the season and "managing the unknown."
"The two weeks between the first and second game could be enormous," Castiglione said. "If (players) do test positive, or if they're in contact (but) never test positive, they have the best chance to return to play before the next game."
However, Castiglione admits there's still a lot of ground to cover for the team in preparing for the season. The Sooners didn't have spring practices and haven't even completed a full month of summer training.
The OU Athletic Department has to work on testing, managing athletes with positive tests and discussing an uncertain future with other schools on a daily basis, while also being just over a month away from the start of college football.
"The ground we have to cover between now and then is a lot," Castiglione said. "We're just dealing with the unknowns. ... We're still dealing with uncharted waters and no playbook for this kind of stuff."