As to be expected, the past couple weeks of conference media days has brought a number of tired debates back to the surface. Among them has been the debate over eight-game conference schedules or nine-game schedules. For the Pac-12, the answer is simple. Commissioner Larry Scott addressed the benefits of having a nine-game conference schedule as college football moves into the College Football Playoff era this fall.
“We know that there will be continued controversy and debate, but the clear statement has been made that strength of schedule is going to be a determining factor in figuring out which of the four teams ought to be competing in that playoff,” Scott said during his state of the Pac-12 press conference this week at the Pac-12 media day event in California. The College Football Playoff selection committee will be placing an emphasis on strength of schedule when determining its rankings and choosing which four teams will be selected to participate in the College Football Playoff. the Pac-12 has opted to go with a nine-game conference schedule in part to raise the overall strength of schedule for the conference. Of course, it also makes it easier to schedule for all Pac-12 schools when they only have to fill three non-conference spots as opposed to four. The Pac-12 also backed out of a conference-wide scheduling agreement with the Big Ten that would have raised the strength of schedule for both conferences.
Scott chose to focus on the depth of the Pac-12 in 2014, a wise strategy considering the national respect for Oregon, Stanford and UCLA along with the rising expectations for programs like USC, Washington and Washington State. With some quality depth, the Pac-12 could be the most entertaining conference to watch this fall, so folks on the east coast may have to prepare for some late nights. The Pac-12 also has a chance to impress on a national level with some key non-conference match-ups.
“This year the Pac‑12, again, has scheduled a very tough non‑conference slate that includes 13 games against bowl teams from a year ago,” Scott said. “Highlights of our non‑conference match‑ups this year include five games against Big Ten opponents – Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Rutgers and Illinois. We’ve got three games against Notre Dame this year – Stanford, USC, Arizona State all playing against Notre Dame, and of course UCLA’s match‑up in Dallas against Texas early in the season.”
But Scott’s final remark about the schedule was one with a slight aim at the ACC and SEC. Both the ACC and SEC will play eight-game conference schedules. Whoever comes out on top of the Pac-12 is likely to have a decent shot at playing in the College Football Playoff, which Scott is already stumping for as best he can.
“Here it is with the most competitive nine‑game conference schedule in the nation, our champion will be incredibly well‑positioned in this first-ever historic College Football Playoff.”
Some power conference is going to get left out of the four-team playoff, if not more. Scott clearly believes his conference should not be on the outside looking in.