Pac-12 Football: Conference Officially Takes the SEC Approach
It has been almost two weeks since we wrote about the "wait and see" nature of future scheduling in the Pac-12 being eerily similar to that of the SEC, here at YB11. Well, it seems the wait is over, as Greg Schroeder of the Register-Guard reports, the annual Big Ten and Pac-12 scheduling agreement is off; five years before it was ever on. From the release posted by Schroeder:
After extensive deliberation and consultation with member institutions, television partners and others, the Pac-12 and Big Ten have decided not to pursue the previously announced plans for enhanced scheduling collaboration across all sports at this time.
That's Larry Scott. It sounds canned. The more interesting notes come from Jim Delany as he gives a little more insight into how the deal fell apart:
We recently learned from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott that the complications associated with coordinating a non-conference football schedule for 24 teams across two conferences proved to be too difficult. Those complications, among other things, included the Pac-12’s nine-game conference schedule and previous nonconference commitments.
As my colleague, Adam Jacobi, at the Big Ten Blog points out, it is pretty clear that this deal died in the water thanks to the Pac-12. The Big Ten teams were willing to dump some games in order to make this come to fruition and they were not worried about the increased competition that might come as a result of adding to their schedule. The Pac-12? Not so much.
As Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury reported a few weeks ago, the Pac-12 schools were not gung-ho about stepping up to the plate. What was a rumor before has now steered the ship for the future of the schedules in the league, and it is every bit as calculated as the SEC scheduling that so many folks bemoan.
Will strength of schedule be weighted heavily enough to get teams to play tough games?
To be fair, the league is not wrong by any means. If the members want to protect their best interest, as schools like Florida and Georgia have been known to do, then more power to them. The Big 12 powers of Oklahoma and Texas are doing the same thing by keeping the league at 10, playing nine conference games but avoiding the challenge of a championship game. It works.
The issue here is admitting what you are: A league that is looking to make their way into the playoff, just like everyone else. Scheduling another challenging game in addition to the league schedule, a conference championship game and any existing tough non-conference games is an unnecessary hurdle.
No need to make your guys jump higher than the teams next to them when you are all running for the same finish line. Especially since, unlike the small conferences, the Pac-12 is a league that would put an undefeated team into the playoff regardless of their non-conference schedule.
Hats off to the Pac-12. Winning titles and getting title shots is the goal. While selling attractive regular season games is nice, ultimately it is an extra step that, until proven necessary, the Pac-12 is taking out of their teams path for a playoff spot. Yes, it stinks for the fans but unless that extra game is worth their while from a strength of schedule standpoint, it is how the greater game of college football scheduling is played.
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