At least one college football coach in the Pac-12 is not necessarily a big fan of the way the conference sets up its conference schedule. Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said in a radio interview the more ideal scheduling strategy to get to the College Football Playoff may be an eight-game conference format.
“I think (playing nine conference games) is good for the fans,” Dykes said to Jordan Canzano of The Oregonian. “I don’t know that it’s good necessarily to get teams in the College Football Playoff. It doesn’t take a lot of math ability to figure out if you play an extra conference game that’s an extra opportunity to lose. Where if you schedule the SEC schedule, you’re setting yourself up for success.”
At first glance, this may appear like a shot at the SEC scheduling suggesting an eight-game schedule is weaker and therefore easier. But that’s not entirely true given the SEC scheduling requirements. In addition to the eight-game SEC schedule, each school in the SEC is required to play one more game in non-conference play against another power conference opponent (or one deemed to be an equivalent, like BYU, Notre Dame or even Army). A number of SEC schools play a rival from the ACC, and others tend to schedule neutral site games that tend to be played against another power conference opponent. For example, Florida plays Florida State every year and Alabama has made a habit of playing marquee games in the opening week in either Atlanta or Arlington.
A nine-game conference schedule guarantees teams will be playing five road game sin the conference every other year, which balances out over time but can still be a hurdle in those years you are on the road a minimum of five times. It is also worth considering not every conference is created equally, and it can be argued eight games in the SEC is more of a challenge than nine games in the Pac-12.
The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 play a nine-game conference schedule. The ACC and SEC play eight, plus one additional game against another power conference opponent. The Big Ten also has that stipulation on top of the nine-game schedule.
“If the end game is getting teams in the College Football Playoff and giving them a chance to win a national championship then an eight-game schedule is the way to go.”
You can listen to the full audio of the interview, which includes commentary on Cal’s next game against Oregon, HERE.