The Pac-12 has revolutionized college football with their innovative round-robin scheduling system, which was first put in place in 2006. With ten teams in the conference until 2010, Pac-12 teams had nine conference games, making them able to play every team once, bringing forth a perfect balance of schedule. The move to 12 teams in 2011 altered that a little bit, but now it could change further after Bruce Feldman has reported that the Pac-12 is looking to discuss an eight-game schedule down from the now traditional nine-game slate.
News of the discussion comes at an ironic time. Last year, the now ten-team Big XII played a nine-game schedule, and the Big Ten announced last week they would be going towards a nine-game schedule. This week, the SEC is having talks about adopting the nine-game schedlule that the Pac-12 originated.
Why are they doing this?
Well, Avinash Kunnath over at Pacific Takes has a terrific set of pros and cons on the eight and nine-game schedules.
The biggest issue is that while a nine-game conference is great in terms of profitability and media rights, it puts the conference behind the eight ball –no pun intended– when it comes to maximizing bowl revenue, and staying on a competitive level in relation to other conferences. With the Big Ten and SEC taking a nine-game schedule seriously, that competitive disadvantage could change, however.
The interesting part of an eight-game schedule however, is whether or not the Pac-12 will continue to allow a mandate that sees USC, UCLA, Cal and Stanford play each other in each season, as part of the Weekender tradition.
With eight conference games, a playing mandate would limit the California teams to just one floating crossover game against the other Pac-12 division from year to year.
For example, USC would play Stanford and Cal every year from the Pac-12 North, while playing Oregon once every for years. That would mean the Trojans would play in Seattle, Corvallis, Pullman or Eugene just once every eight years.
Furthermore, while Stanford would play USC and UCLA, plus a Arizona State, a school like Washington could conceivably play Utah and Colorado, in addition to Arizona, hence an imbalanced schedule.
Due to the competitive disadvantage issues that the California teams would then have, it might be an opportunity for the Pac-12 re-align the divisions, swapping Cal and Stanford to the south in exchange for Utah and Colorado.
At this point, that doesn’t seem likely, but it would be one way to main the California rivalries with respect to the conference’s competivie balance.
So, what do you say? Are you a fan of the eight or nine game schedule? Vote in our poll and leave your voice below in the comments.