Following the SEC’s decision to stick with an eight-game conference schedule last weekend, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said the number of conference games a team plays won’t matter. Instead the selection committee will focus on a team’s strength of schedule when determining its rankings.
Conversely, several Pac-12 coaches voiced their displeasure for the decision because they feel it will, in fact, impact the selection process. Each Pac-12 team plays a nine-game conference slate.
Per ESPN.com, Stanford’s David Shaw was especially outspoken.
"I've been saying this for three years now: I think if we're going to go into a playoff and feed into one playoff system, we all need to play by the same rules," Shaw said. "Play your conference. Don't back down from playing your own conference. It's one thing to back down from playing somebody else. But don't back down from playing your own conference.
“My take is to say, ‘OK, the rest of us are playing our conference. We’re playing nine out of 12 teams in our conference. Why can’t you do the same thing?’”
In addition to the Pac-12, the Big 12 also plays a nine-game schedule. The Big Ten, now with 14 members, will introduce a nine-game schedule in 2016. The ACC will decide later this month whether to stay at eight or move to nine.
While saying that Pac-12 schools “try not to schedule too many patsies,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora echoed Shaw’s sentiments.
"I would like to see everybody operate under the same set of rules or restrictions or regulations or whatever word you want to throw in there," Mora said. “I think the Pac-12 is an incredibly competitive conference. I look at the teams that make up this conference and I think anybody can beat anybody on any given week. I think the same can be said for the SEC. And yet we play nine games against each other.”
Other coaches like Oregon's Mark Helfrich, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez and new Washington coach Chris Petersen also spoke out against it.
On the other hand, Mike Leach, who is entering his third season at the helm of Washington State, understood the SEC’s decision since nine conference games are not a requirement.
“Until that is required, I think they are elevating their conference and I think they are fairly clever to do it,” Leach said.
The late-season scenario where an SEC team and a Pac-12 team are both vying for that final spot in the Playoff and have similar resumes, but the SEC team has one more win because it scheduled a weak non-conference opponent seems inevitable. Let the controversy begin.
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