FanPost

What an 8-game Pac12 Schedule Might Look Like



With the announcement of the alliance, which would eventually include 2 games each year (1 home and 1 away), the Pac-12 has let it be known that they plan to reduce to 8 conference games as early as possible. Doing so before the next round of media rights negotiations would require sign-off from Fox and/or ESPN, but the carrot to them would be swapping out those 9th conference games for Big10 vs Pac12 games instead, which could be enticing enough to make the move early.

NOTE 1: Another change being discussed by the conference is removing the North vs. South matchup in the Pac12 Championship Game, and just taking the top 2 teams. This change can happen in any possible format/scheduling configuration, so I won't discuss it too much further in this article. Obviously some of the models below would do away with divisions, and thus require the 1 vs 2, but other would keep divisions and allow for either the current way or the 1 vs 2.

So, what would an 8 game schedule look like? Below I've outlined 7 possible scheduling models the conference could implement for an 8-game conference schedule. For ease of understanding, I'm describing what each scenario would look like through an Oregon-centric lens, but the same rotation and principal would apply to every school

NOTE 2: These are the 7 primary options that could be considered in an 8-team format. There are additional possibilities and variations, most particularly if you want to create a 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, etc matchup on the final week, but that creates a slew of challenges on its on (travel scheduling, rematches, TV coverage, fan travel, etc), so I've decided to ignore those variation for now.

1) STATUS QUO-ISH

  • Keep current division format

  • Reduce cross-division games to 3

  • Keep the special arrangement for California schools to all play each other every year

  • Result:

    • Just like now, Oregon play all North division opponents annually, alternating home and home

    • The cross-division games become a 12-year rotation, with Oregon playing 3 of the 6 annually. the Ducks would play USC and UCLA each just twice in 12 years (one home and one away), while playing the Arizona and Mountain schools 8 times each over the 12 year rotation

  • Pros:

    • Retains current north-south division, and all rivalries contained therein

    • Retains California schools desire to all play each other annually

    • Allows for either continuing to have division champions play in CCG, or going to the 1 vs 2 model

  • Cons:

    • Unbalanced rotation is inequitable to NW, Mountain, and Arizona schools and potential competitively advantageous to some schools over others

    • NW schools only playing SoCal schools twice in 12 years and Mtn/Ariz schools only playing NorCal schools twice in 12 years is problematic for several reasons

  • Analysis: The 12 year rotation, unbalanced scheduling, and the fact that non-California schools get to travel to each California region so rarely make this one a tough sell for the 4 Northwest schools. Losing that extra cross-division game causes the compromise that was made when the Pac12 expanded to be untenable in an 8-game model.

2) North/South, but end the California Special

  • Keep current division format

  • Reduce cross-division games to 3

  • End the special arrangement for California schools to all play each other every year

  • Result:

    • Just like now, Oregon play all North division opponents annually, alternating home and home

    • The cross-division games become a 4-year rotation, with Oregon playing 3 of the 6 annually. the Ducks would play every team twice in four years, once at home, and once on the road

  • Pros:

    • Retains current north-south division, and all rivalries contained therein

    • 4-year complete conference schedule rotation is the shortest one possible

    • Every team visits every other team at least once every 4 years, and plays each other twice every 4 years.

    • Allows for either continuing to have division champions play in CCG, or going to the 1 vs 2 model

  • Cons:

    • California schools no longer play each other annually, which affects two long standing and important rivalries (Cal/UCLA and Stanford/USC)

  • Analysis: This is the absolute ideal scenario for rotation purposes, requiring just 4 years to complete the rotation. But the 4 California schools are unlikely to agree to a plan that ends the annual Stanford/USC and UCLA/Cal games.

3) SEC-Lite: Keep Divisions, but add permanent cross-division rival

  • Keep current division format

  • Reduce cross-division games to 3

  • End the special arrangement for California schools to all play each other every year

  • 1 of the cross-division games is a permanent rivalry that happens annually, alternating home/road

    • USC vs Stanford, Cal vs UCLA, Oregon vs Utah, Washington vs Arizona State, OSU vs Arizona, WSU vs Colorado

    • The first 2 would be required. the NW/Mtn/Arizona ones could be whatever.

  • Result:

    • Just like now, Oregon play all North division opponents annually, alternating home and home

    • Other than the set rivalry game, the cross-division games become a 10-year rotation, with Oregon playing 2 of the 5 annually. the Ducks would play each of those teams 4 times in 10 years, twice at home, and twice on the road

  • Pros:

    • Retains current north-south division, and all rivalries contained therein

    • Adds back the California rivalries

    • Allows for either continuing to have division champions play in CCG, or going to the 1 vs 2 model

  • Cons:

    • 10 years to work through the full rotation is a long time

    • North teams playing in LA 4 out of 10 years is less than the current 2 out of 4 model

  • Analysis: This is essentially a compromise between options 1 and 2. Keeps 3/4 of the California games going annually, but drops USC/Cal and Stan/UCLA as annual games, which allows the NW teams to play in the California locations 40% of years, comparable to the 50% they have now. Is that palatable to all parties or is no one happy? the biggest downside is the 10 years required to complete the full rotation

4) Zipper:

  • Logistically, this is exactly the same as the SEC-Lite setup

  • Two divisions, but reconfigured to split each of the legacy rivalries, putting one of each pair into separate divisions

  • Reduce cross-division games to 3

  • 1 of the cross-division games is a permanent rivalry that happens annually, alternating home/road

    • USC/UCLA, STAN/CAL, UO/OSU, UW/WSU, ARIZ/ASU, UTAH/COLO

  • Result:

    • Just like now, Oregon play all division opponents annually, alternating home and home

    • Other than the set rivalry game, the cross-division games become a 10-year rotation, with Oregon playing 2 of the 5 annually. the Ducks would play each of those teams 4 times in 10 years, twice at home, and twice on the road

  • Pros:

    • Retains all historic rivalry pairs

    • Allows for either continuing to have division champions play in CCG, or going to the 1 vs 2 model

  • Cons:

    • 10 years to work through the full rotation is a long time

    • Oregon may only play UW 4 times out of 10 if they are in other other division

    • Competitive balance between divisions may be less than ideal to accommodate desired division pairings.

  • Analysis: The conference seriously considered adopting this format (albeit with 9 conference games) when they expanded prior to the 2011 season. Will they return to the concept? Again, the 10 year rotation becomes an issue, as does competitive balance and in-fighting as to divisional placement. UO will want to be with WSU and not UW. Stanford will want to be with USC and not UCLA, etc

5) PODS!:

  • Do away with divisions, and instead have three 4-team pods (NW, Cali, Mtn/Ariz)

  • Each team plays their pod-mates annually (think mini-division)

    • That totals 3 games

    • Other 5 games are spread among the other 8 teams

  • Result:

    • Oregon would play OSU, WSU, and UW annually, just like now

    • Non-Pod games would be on a 16 year rotation, with Oregon playing each team 10 times in 16 years, 5 home and 5 away.

  • Pros:

    • Retains current division rivalries

    • Allows all 4 California schools to continue playing each other annually

    • Northwest teams play in LA 10 times in 16 years, which is more often than the current 2 in 4

    • creates kind of a bragging rights scenario for each pod (King of the Northwest!)

  • Cons:

    • 16 years to work through the full rotation is far too long

    • Determining 1 vs 2 could involve 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level tiebreakers among multiple teams

    • Mountain/Arizona schools are trading California games for NW games

  • Analysis: Pod format works well for 16 team conference (the SEC is looking at it). the 16-year (!) rotation required for a 12 team conference makes it tough. But the California schools all get to stay together, and the NW schools get to both stay together, AND play in California more often, which might be enough to overcome the long rotation problem. Mountain and Arizona schools play in California less and Northwest more, so a harder sell for them.

6) No Divisions, 1 Rival:

  • Do away with divisions, standing are 1 through 12 with top 2 making CCG

  • Each team has 1 permanent rival that they play annually (UO/OSU, UW/WSU, etc)

  • Result:

    • Oregon would play 7 of the other 10 teams each year.

    • Non-rivalry games would be on a 20 year rotation, with Oregon playing each team 14 times in 20 years, 7 home and 7 away.

  • Pros:

    • Retains historic primary rivalries

    • Completely balanced scheduling across all 12 teams (outside the rivalry game)

    • Play at every stadium approximately once every 3 seasons on average

  • Cons:

    • 20 years to work through the full rotation is far too long

    • Secondary rivalries don't play annually

    • Determining 1 vs 2 could involve 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level tiebreakers among multiple teams

    • Mountain/Arizona schools are trading California games for NW games

  • Analysis: The 20-year (!!) rotation combined with the loss of secondary rivalries likely makes this one dead on arrival for UW, UO, and all the California schools

7) No Divisions, 2 Rivals:

  • Do away with divisions, standing are 1 through 12 with top 2 making CCG

  • Each team has 2 permanent rivals that they play annually:

    • Oregon: OSU and UW

    • OSU: UO and WSU

    • UW: WSU and UO

    • WSU: UW and OSU

    • Cal: Stan and UCLA

    • Stan: Cal and USC

    • USC: UCLA and Stan

    • UCLA: USC and Cal

    • Utah: Colo and ASU

    • Colo: Utah and UA

    • ASU: UA and Utah

    • UA: ASU and Colo

  • Result:

    • Oregon would play 6 of the 9 non-rivals each season

    • Non-rivalry games would be on a 6 year rotation, with Oregon playing each team 4 times in 6 years, 2 home and 2 away

  • Pros:

    • Retains both the primary and secondary rivalry

    • Balanced scheduling across all 12 teams (outside the rivalry games)

    • Play at every stadium approximately once every 3 seasons on average

  • Cons:

    • Determining 1 vs 2 could involve 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level tiebreakers among multiple teams

    • Mountain/Arizona schools are trading California games for NW games

  • Analysis: The 6-year rotation is an improvement on the current 8-year format, and almost as good as the best-case 4-year rotation. California and Northwest schools get to retain their secondary rivalries, and NW schools play in Southern Cal more often. Can Mountain/Arizona schools accept playing in LA 2 out of 3 years instead of every year?

My Conclusions:

Feels like 1, 2, and 6 would be out for political reasons. NW schools will never agree to 1, and California schools will never agree to 2. I don't think ANY of the 12 teams would be happy with option 6 (maybe OSU and WSU). Option 4 (zipper) would be logistically challenging to gain consensus on who gets placed in what divisions. Option 5 (Pods) is very interesting. there is something to like for both the NW and California schools. The Mountain/Arizona schools probably won't like it as much, but it's not as bad for them as some of the other options. The 16-year rotation might be the biggest hurdle.

I think 3 and 7 are the best available options. 3 is a less radical approach that requires both the NW schools and California schools to once again compromise. Their both "losing" compared to the status quo, which is likely to be the biggest hurdle for all 8 schools. Option 7 is my personal favorite and the one I would adopt if I were the conference. It's the best combination of truly equitable and balanced scheduling and retaining highly important and coveted secondary rivalries. Can you sell the California schools on losing the UCLA/Stanford and Cal/USC annual games? Can you sell the mountain/Arizona schools on missing an LA game once every 3 years? If you can, I think this is the winner.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or the Addicted To Quack Moderators. FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable Oregon fans.