OU pauses practice as college football debates future of fall season

Lincoln Riley

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley answers a question during an NCAA college football media day news conference in Norman, Okla., Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. Riley has done everything his first two years as Oklahoma’s coach, including coaching two Heisman winners. But he hasn’t won a national title. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

NORMAN, Okla. (KXAN) — OU is pausing preseason football practices for a week after a shift in its upcoming playing schedule, head coach Lincoln Riley announced.

The Sooners were scheduled to play Missouri State on August 29, but the Big 12’s shift to a 10-game schedule has prompted OU to reassess the game date with the Bears. OU wrapped up its fifth day of practice on Saturday. Missouri State is expected to be OU’s only non-conference opponent.

“We decided it’s best to give our players some time off,” Riley said to OU’s team site. “We were able to start camp before the vast majority of teams because our August 29 season-opening game date was the earliest in the country. With that first game pushed back a week or two, it only makes sense to spread out our practices and give our guys some time away. They’ve done a great job so far.”

OU says its players are scheduled to return to and undergo COVID-19 testing protocol on August 14 with practice resuming in the following days.

“We’re also mindful of all the conversations across the country with regard to the 2020 season. The added benefit of temporarily breaking from training camp is that it gives us a few more days to monitor those talks,” Riley said.

On Saturday, the Mid-American Conference postponed all fall sports due to the pandemic. The conference says it is formalizing plans for Spring 2021. The MAC’s decision doesn’t affect the conference’s winter sports.

On Friday, Texas started preseason practices at Frank Denius Fields. Longhorns head coach Tom Herman said the current unknown of college football’s future is causing his coaching staff to only plan in the short-term.

“Things are changing so fast and so often that if we plan anything beyond a two to three week stretch, we’re crazy, we’re wasting brain cells,” Herman said.

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