Why Getting Rid Of Divisions Will Help Pac-12 Football
Oct 28, 2021, 12:54 PM | Updated: 1:00 pm
(Photo courtesy of John McGillen, Pac-12)
SALT LAKE CITY – The Pac-12 is once again beating each other up.
There are no undefeated teams in or out of conference play. As of now, it is only the Oregon Ducks who are in the conversation for a College Football Playoff berth but they need some help to get there. The Ducks are seventh and eighth in both major polls – the first playoff rankings do not come out until Nov. 2.
The rest of the Pac-12 isn’t helping Oregon’s cause. There are no other teams ranked in the top 25 and Utah and UCLA are receiving just a single vote. The chances for an elite win for the Ducks is nowhere to be seen. They do face Oregon State to end the season but they have two losses, the Utes have three, and even playing in the Pac-12 title game could very well feature a team not ranked and with three losses.
All Oregon can do this season is to win impressively and get a bit of help if the Pac-12 is going to end its College Football Playoff drought. A one-loss Pac-12 champ isn’t afforded the same as a one-loss team from the SEC.
The idea to scrap divisions is not something that could be done this year but Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has brought up the idea to pit the two best teams in the league against each other for the title game.
Pac-12 weighing whether to dump the North-South divisional structure in future football seasons, per commissioner George Kliavkoff.
Would result in just the best two teams in the conference playing in title game in Las Vegas each year.
— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) October 21, 2021
Placing the two best teams with no divisions could have real benefits when one half of the league is better than the other, and it would give a schedule boost for the College Football Playoff committee to consider a Pac-12 team.
Also, one thing hinging on scrapping divisions would be how the College Football Playoff expands. If it goes to the 12-team model that has been proposed which includes the top six conference champions then maybe getting rid of divisions doesn’t make sense as much. This is very much a work in progress.
KSL Sports Scott Mitchell loves this idea which will give the conference a much better chance to represent the Pac-12 in the playoff and not have some three-loss division champion pull of an upset and lock out the league from competing for a national title.
“This to me makes sense. When you have a commissioner that says, ‘here is the problem… and downside to divisions,’ and he nails it,” Mitchell said. “It is a problem, maybe, across college football when you have divisions. … The whole idea was to generate revenue and interest, but the problem on the bigger stage is you get left out of the conversation.
“You run the risk of having a team that maybe shouldn’t have won the conference finds a way to win on a day. They have two or three conference losses and they beat a team that is undefeated – that happens in college football from time to time – then you get hosed on the College Football Playoff.”
Another added benefit to pitting the two best teams in the title game is once the playoff expands there will be more openings for the Pac-12 to get multiple bids.
“When it expands and you have two one-loss or undefeated teams playing in a conference championship and one of those teams beats the other one. Then you have a discussion of possibly having two teams in an expanded College Football Playoff and that makes your conference relevant on a national stage.”
Other leagues have done this to maximize postseason berths. The Big 12 dropped divisions when it went down to 10 teams after it had teams left out of the College Football Playoff. Conference USA did a unique basketball schedule to help it get another NCAA Tournament team or better seed.
So, this concept of adjusting a schedule for maximum gain is not new. If Kliavkoff wants to help Pac-12 football he should get rid of divisions to give his league the best chance at getting the most representation for the College Football Playoff.
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