Pac-12 Football: 4-Team Playoff Requires New Scheduling for Conference

Erin SorensenContributor IJune 29, 2012

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 29:  The PAC 12 logo on the field during the college football game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Colorado Buffaloes at Sun Devil Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Sun Devils defeated the Buffaloes 48-14.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In the days since the Presidential Oversight Committee approved a four-team playoff, everyone has been wondering what the new system means for different conferences. For the Pac-12, it means new scheduling is needed.

Both the Pac-12 and the Big Ten have 12-team conferences. The difference is while the Pac-12 plays nine conference opponents a season, the Big Ten only plays eight. The SEC will only play eight of the 14 teams in its conference this season. So why does this matter for the Pac-12?

It matters if the top selection criteria for the selection committee is wins and losses. When one conference is playing 82 percent of its league (Pac-12) versus only 61 percent (SEC), the playing field is clearly unfair, especially when one conference schedules more FCS opponents than another.

The Pac-12 prides itself on the fact that USC and UCLA have never scheduled an FCS opponent. While a noble thing to do, it ultimately puts the two programs at a disadvantage when facing the selection committee. Both have a greater chance of being upset within their own conference than an SEC school does.

The four-team playoff will require cautious optimism, as ESPN.com's Ted Miller pointed out. It may also require all major conferences to adopt an eight or nine-conference game standard. Best stated by Miller,

It's not just about playing another tough opponent, either. It's about the mathematical fact that playing an extra conference game creates more losses in your conference and chips away at strength of schedule as much—or more—as it might add to it.

As the Pac-12 goes forward from here, scheduling will now need to be revisited. After all, the Pac-12 wants to win just as much as anyone else. An unfair schedule shouldn't be allowed to hold them back.