College Football's New Playoff: The PAC-12's Early Disadvantage

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 06: The Coaches' Trophy is seen at media day for the BCS National Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 6, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. LSU and Alabama will play in the BCS National Championship on January 9th. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

College football has a new playoff system on the way, but conference scheduling will replace the BCS as the next point of controversy.

On Tuesday, the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee approved a four-team playoff proposal, beginning in 2014, that hopes to determine a true National Champion in college football. So what's it mean for the PAC-12?

It means the PAC-12 needs to ensure scheduling in college football becomes an even playing field.

Currently, the PAC-12 is a 12-team conference - this may seem obvious, but keep in mind that this year the BIG-10 will operate with 12 teams, and the Big-12 has 10 teams. It can get a little confusing.

The SEC, who many consider to be the premiere conference in college football, due in large part to the fact that it's won the past six BCS Championships, will expand to 14 teams for the 2012 season.

Why is the important?

Because, under the newly adopted postseason format, the four schools participating in the playoff will be determined by a yet-to-be-appointed selection committee.

For PAC-12 schools and their fans, this might not work out so well if scheduling stays status-quo, because the conference puts itself at a disadvantage from the start.

Let's talk in numbers.

The PAC-12 plays nine games within the conference and three games outside of the conference. Which means, to earn a berth in the PAC-12 Championship Game, a school would face 82% of possible conference opponents - or 9 of 11 possible teams.

The BIG-10, which also operates with 12 members, only plays eight conference games, good for 73%.

The SEC, despite expanding to 14 teams, will continue to play just eight conference games. Eight of a possible 13 opponents is good for just 61%.

Under the new system, the selection committee will be looking at the resumes of these conferences' champions to determine whether of not they deserve one of the four playoff bids, but is the playing field really level, when one conference plays games against 82% of its league while another faces just 61%?

As disturbing as that may be, it doesn't even account for non-conference scheduling, which the SEC regularly comes under strong criticism for, when seemingly every November one of it's top teams is playing some lowly FCS opponent.

If the top criteria for the selection committee is W-L record, as has been reported, then shouldn't we make sure the path each team takes is somewhat equal?

Absolutely, it should.

But maybe it's the PAC-12 who needs to change, not the SEC. Why try to force reform, when you can just play "follow the leader" instead? I mean, it's not like the SEC hasn't benefitted greatly from doing things the way it has. Maybe it's time the PAC-12 get in on that action.

Certainly, PAC-12 "traditionalists" will be quick to point to USC's seven consecutive BCS games, and Top-4 finishes. But a question worth asking is: How many of those seven years would the Trojans have made it to the BCS title game if they got to play one less conference game? No getting tripped up by Oregon State or UCLA or Stanford.

The PAC-12 takes great pride in the fact USC and UCLA are two of just three schools who have never played an FCS opponent, and that the University of Washington hadn't until recently. The conference and its fans feel like it brings a certain integrity to the league. And they're right.

At the same time, the SEC is getting fat on victories over Directional State University while bringing home titles.

The PAC-12 has always had a reputation for being progressive, but maybe it's time to take someone else's lead for once.

So while we are celebrating the "death of the BCS", let's hope PAC-12 scheduling isn't far behind.

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Follow Scott on Twitter @scottenyeart

For more stories and discussion on the PAC-12 head over to Pacific Takes.

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