Pac-12 won’t change scheduling to ‘skate through’ to playoff
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Pac-12 has no plans to change its football scheduling policies and philosophies, including playing nine conference games, to enhance the league’s chances to place a team in the four-team playoff.
Commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday conference coaches and administrators discussed during meetings this week whether there are ways to better position their teams for College Football Playoff selection. The Pac-12 has failed to have a team chosen three times in the CFP’s five-year existence, more than any other P5 league.
In addition to playing nine conference games, several Pac-12 schools infrequently play FCS teams, and will routinely schedule two Power Five nonconference opponents in the same season.
“It’s pretty apparent our schools do not singularly focus on how do we skate through as easily as possible?” Scott told reporters.
The Big 12 and Big Ten have nine-game conference schedules and Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference teams play eight-game league schedules. The Big Ten and Big 12 have each missed the playoff twice. The SEC and ACC have had playoff representatives every season.
Scott said CFP considerations are only part of scheduling decisions. Pac-12 television contracts with ESPN and Fox were struck with a nine-game conference schedule in mind.
“We’ve got obligations. It doesn’t mean it would be impossible, but up until now our schools haven’t wanted to change,” Scott said. “Our schools like playing against each. Don’t really like going into the buying of games market.”
Paying for one-off home games against lower-level Division I opposition has become costly. Top Power Five schools frequently pay more than a million dollars to have an opponent come to their stadium with no return road game. Also, Scott said, Pac-12 schools have a difficult time drawing fans for games against lesser competition.
“Our fans aren’t going to come out to our stadia for any game. They come out for high-quality games,” Scott said. “There’s pressure our campuses feel to have a high-quality slate of games. There’s a perception that scheduling to make the playoff is the first priority for our schools.”
Scott cited Southern California and Stanford’s traditional rivalry against Notre Dame as an example of the Pac-12’s scheduling philosophy.
USC has also played a home-and-home series with Texas and a neutral-site game against Alabama in recent seasons in addition to the annual game against the Fighting Irish. This coming season, Stanford will play Northwestern and UCF in the nonconference along with Notre Dame.
There is nothing the Pac-12 can do to push the SEC and ACC to play more conference games, though Scott did say the Pac-12 would support the Power Five conferences agreeing to have their teams play at least 10 games against each season against P5 competition, regardless of conference.
“Directionally, that would create the kind of parity we want,” Scott said. “It would say it would definitely be in a step in the right direction.”