If you had told a Big 12 coach before 2020 he'd have to take the field with 53 available bodies, he'd faint.
If you told him the same in 2020, well, he wouldn't be happy about it, but he'd understand.
According to Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard, the Big 12 has established that, as long as a team has 53 available players, and one quarterback and six offensive linemen are among those 53, that team will be expected to take the field and play.
"The Big 12 has policies, (and) we're using the 53 man roster policy," Pollard said Monday, via 247Sports. "So a 53 man roster is built on a set number of positions. So I think it's one quarterback, six offensive linemen and you come up with 53 [players]. So the antigen test the Big 12 uses on Friday will be the certification test.
"And as long as you have at least 53 players certified to play and you have the minimum number at every one of those positions comprising the 53 [man roster], then you have to play. If you're less than that 53, then you can have a no-contest. And the first step would be to try and reschedule during one of the bye dates. But if not, it doesn't technically count against the team that ends up with the no contest. But it was a uniform policy that we wanted to adopt to, in essence, take some gamesmanship out of what could happen potentially later in the year."
We knew the conference was in the process of ironing out a hard-and-fast number when we wrote on this topic last week and, to be honest, the 53 number is lower than I would have guessed.
Pollard's number did not specify if the 53-man number would be counted off the 85-man scholarship limit or all players, meaning a team could take the field with more than half of its roughly 110-man roster unavailable to play.
To think that a team would be two turned ankles away from having to play a defensive lineman on the O-line, or that team would be expected to take the field with nothing but a walk-on quarterback cleared to play is, to borrow an overused word, unprecedented -- at least at this scale.
On the flip side, large roster sizes are somewhat unique to college football. NFL teams carry 53-man rosters at all times and only dress 45 on game days. Thousands of high school teams play with less than that every week.
Here's hoping no Big 12 teams are forced to test the 53-man limit, but if 2020 has taught us anything it's to prepare for the worst because the worst just might happen.