Pac 12 conference takes shape
On Thursday, Larry Scott’s vision became reality. It isn’t the longshot Super 16 conference that he attempted to piece together over the summer, but is the downscaled backup plan that went immediately into effect once the Pied Piper of Austin led his faithful mice back to the Big XII for more cheese.
With the new additions of Utah and Colorado for the 2011 season, the divisional breakdown is as follows:
The divisions were officially announced during Larry Scott’s press conference, and shapes to the earliest predictions. The conference commish said georgraphy, rivalry, and a balance of power were taken into consideration when dividing the 12 members, and the new alignment was approved unanimously by school presidents.
The Golden State
Under the new structure, schools will play a 9-game conference schedule. USC, along with UCLA, will keep the rivalries with the Northern California teams intact. There will be a rotation for the other north members, meaning the Trojans will be absent from their schedules in certain years. But Cal and Stanford will remain an annual event, extending the north/south California rivalries without pause.
As a result, USC has a 10-game fixed schedule, with the inclusion of the longstanding rivalry with Notre Dame. This leaves just two slots to play with each year, when it comes to scheduling outside of conference. The Trojans are slated to play at Hawaii in 2013, which would allow for a third game out of conference, and create the possibility of USC playing 15 games in a season.
Conference Championship Game
The host venue for the inaugural Pac 12 championship game had plenty of people guessing. And as of today, you were all wrong.— And also today, we still don’t know.
The conference championship game will be played at the home of the highest seeded team participating in the event. It’s an honor that is to be earned through overall play in conference. Scott claims the decision is based on the NFL playoff model, but I think ACC champions playing before empty seats had to cross his mind. With it guaranteed that the host venue will have a team competing in the championship game, it ensures full stadium capacity regardless of where it is played.
The poison side of that apple is in the instance that Washington State shakes off futility and re-emerges to championship level. A conference championship game played in a 35,000 seat stadium will do nothing but leave accountants estimating figures of what could have been.
The Northwestern schools lobbied for annual games in Southern California and lost the bid. Highly dependent on the fertile recruiting grounds, those teams can now only visit Los Angeles every other year. This puts a squeeze on the recruiting pipeline for the Oregon and Washington schools, but the slow drip that was once provided for newcomers Utah and Colorado has now turned to an open faucet.
I’m going to miss the round robin, as I have always believed it to be the best format of all automatic qualifying conferences. Theorist believing an increase in size would increase the conference’s potential for a second BCS bowl bid were obviously not anticipating a 9-game league schedule, and looking more at the 8-game formats in the Big XII and SEC. The Pac 12 roads are paved with just as much difficulty as the Pac 10, especially if the schools continue the pattern of bold scheduling outside the conference.