Before the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee ever met regarding the four-team playoff, the Pac-12 had concerns.
These concerns had little to do with the playoff, but more to do with its future alliance with the Big Ten. The biggest concern for the conference was whether or not strength of schedule (SOS) would play a role in selecting the playoff teams.
In an article written before the playoff was approved, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner wrote:
Multiple league sources have told the Hotline in recent weeks that several Pac-12 schools are … how should we say it? … less than enthusiastic about the partnership, set to take effect in 2017. However, the schools are reserving final judgment until they see whether a strength-of-schedule component is included in the formula that determines which teams participate in the four-team playoff.
If SOS is given serious weight … if it’s a tangible part of the formula … then Pac-12 schools may be willing to consider a partnership in which the top programs draw B1G heavyweights every few years, sources said. But if SOS is not included in the formula, then a full-blown Pac-12/B1G partnership ... could be in jeopardy.
Pac-12, you may rest easy. As Nicole Auerbach tweeted, strength of schedule will be included:
Selection committee will rank 4 playoff teams based on: W-L record, strength of schedule, head-to-head & if team is conference champion.— Nicole Auerbach (@nicoleauerbach) June 26, 2012
However, it is suggested that the partnership is still underwhelming to many Pac-12 schools. It shouldn't be, as this matchup helps the Pac-12 more than many must realize.
While adding more difficult teams to a schedule is not preferred, the relationship with the Big Ten provides stability to the Pac-12. If anything, it combats the SEC/Big 12 marriage. The relationship with the Big Ten keeps the Pac-12 in the "Big Four," guaranteeing the strength needed to be considered for the playoffs.
Now that strength of schedule is a part of the selection criteria, there should be no doubt in the strength of this partnership.
This Pac-12/Big Ten deal will encourage better non-conference games throughout all of college football. Wins and losses are no longer a guarantee, but simply a consideration. Adding strength of schedule is what will help seal the deal to the playoffs.
So while the Pac-12 may have felt underwhelmed before the four-team playoff was announced, the conference should be feeling much more grateful for its partnership now. In 2017, both the Big Ten and Pac-12 should be ready to help support one another.
After all, this is a new day for college football, and everyone must learn to adapt.