Skip to main content

In the COVID era, no teams are unluckier than Baylor and Houston

The 2020 college football season is on, but it's on for some more than others. Just ask Baylor and Houston.

The two schools weren't supposed to play this season. In fact, the former Southwest Conference rivals haven't played at all since 1995. But cancelations elsewhere forced the Bears and Cougars to schedule a game on a week's notice.

“I’m sitting there thinking to myself, ‘Wow, we just put together a game in less than 12 hours,’” Baylor AD Mack Rhoades told Max Olson of The Athletic. “Normally it takes months to try to get a game put together. I just started thinking, man, maybe we — all of us — are making this football scheduling way too complicated. But it speaks volumes when two teams want to play each other. You don’t need a lot of time to make it work out.”

Turns out, all that effort was for naught. The game was canceled on Friday, literally as Houston sat in the shadow of Baylor's McLane Stadium.

The reason for the cancelation was not necessarily positive cases of COVID-19, but the contract tracing required therein.

"We are incredibly disappointed with the continued delay to the start of our season, and empathize with our student-athletes, fans, coaches, and administrative staff," Rhoades said Friday. "We are grateful for the support and understanding of the University of Houston, Athletic director Chris Pezman, and Chancellor Khator. We look forward to a future home and home match-up."

No team has been more snake bit in the COVID era than Houston.

Original Houston September schedule
Rice -- Sept. 3
at Washington State -- Sept. 12
at Memphis -- Sept. 19
North Texas -- Sept. 26

Houston lost the Washington State game when the Pac-12 went conference-only in July (before postponing their season altogether a month later) and lost the Rice game on Oct. 10.

By Aug. 27, Houston's September schedule looked like this:

Houston September schedule, Part 2
at Memphis -- Sept. 18
North Texas -- Sept. 26

The Memphis game was officially canceled at 5 p.m. on Sept. 12. The Baylor game was announced one hour and 59 minutes later.

Houston September schedule, Part 3
at Baylor -- Sept. 19
North Texas -- Sept. 26

And now, on Sept. 18, it looks like this.

Houston September schedule, Part 4
North Texas -- Sept. 26

North Texas hosts SMU on Saturday. Mustangs head coach Sonny Dykes announced Friday his team has not had a single positive test in the past four weeks, so the Mean Green should be good to go for next Saturday.

Meanwhile, Baylor has not had any better luck.

Original Baylor September schedule
vs. Ole Miss -- Sept. 5 (at Houston)
Kansas -- Sept. 12
Incarnate Word -- Sept. 19
Louisiana Tech -- Sept. 26

The Ole Miss game disappeared when the SEC went conference-only in July, and the Big 12 followed suit by going to a 9 + 1 model. Baylor chose to keep the Louisiana Tech game and 86 the Incarnate Word game, thinking the Bulldogs, as a Conference USA team, would have a better chance at staying virus-free than the FCS Cardinals.

On Aug. 12, Baylor announced this schedule

Baylor September schedule, Part 2
Louisiana Tech -- Sept. 12
Kansas -- Sept. 26

The Louisiana Tech game was postponed Sept. 8 due to COVID concerns, though with an asterisk. The Bulldogs, successfully bubbling in Ruston through August, were forced to scatter upon the approach of Hurricane Laura. Once the team reconvened after the storm, too many players acquired the virus to play the game just one week later, and pushing back a week was not an option since Louisiana Tech was scheduled to open C-USA play at Southern Miss.

Thus, the Houston game was born.

Baylor September schedule, Part 3
Houston -- Sept. 19
Kansas -- Sept. 26

And that brings us to today.

Baylor September schedule, Part 4
Kansas -- Sept. 26

Both teams are currently 0-for-4 in finding September opponents. (Keep in mind, everything seen here only accounts for games that actually made it on the schedule. We have no idea how many calls each AD made that went nowhere.) While such rotten luck would obviously be devastating for any team, it's especially so for a Baylor team breaking in a new staff and new schemes on both sides of the ball. The Bears will not have a single tune-up game -- after not holding a single spring practice -- before diving straight into conference play next week. They hope.

"We're heartbroken from this postponement," Baylor head coach Dave Aranda said. "While we've been eager to play football this fall, we have all made a commitment to only do so with the highest level of safety and care for our student-athletes. We are disappointed for our team, staff, and our fans, but look forward with great anticipation to renewing this rivalry in the future."